Good Info on Evils of Fast Track--Call those Losers!!
Not only do we need to tell them to vote NO on FAST TRACK, we need to tell them to make sure to stick around for the vot. There is a chance the vote could happen after representatives start leaving for August recess. This one is gonna be close--every vote counts.
To: All environmental and trade activists
From: Jason Tockman, American Lands Alliance
Date: July 26, 2002
FAST TRACK VOTE TODAY
--Calls to House Members urgent
--US trade policy for the next 5 years to be set this evening!
-- please circulate widely --
Fast Track legislation--that would bring us more trade deals following the
NAFTA model--will be voted on by the US House of Representatives TODAY,
Friday July 26. Trade policy for the next 5 years will probably be decided
by the end of the day. The legislation is a disaster for environmentalists,
designed to create new trade deals that weaken environmental standards,
including forest protections. Fast Track is the vehicle to expand the powers
of the World Trade Organization and to expand NAFTA to the entire hemisphere
(minus Cuba) through the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA)
PLEASE TAKE ACTION NOW: CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE IN DC:
877-611-0063 (AFL-CIO free number)
202-224-3121 (Capitol Switchboard)
Ask them to oppose Fast Track, which would:
--Lead to more logging of ancient forests in countries like Chile and
--Limit the public policy tools that countries can use to protect forests
--Impede environmental regulation through lawsuits by foreign corporations
For more information as to how your Representative is inclined to vote,
contact Jason Tockman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 740-594-5441. Pasted
below is an assessment of the latest text of Fast Track from Public Citizen,
and a timely Washington Post article.
CONTENTS OF THE DEAL ARE TERRIBLE:
(From Public Citizen)
***GRAMM LANGUAGE IS IN: The sneaky Senator Phil Gramm snuck in language at
the 11th hour into the House Fast Track bill last December the night before
the vote. This language basically says that countries don't even have to
uphold their own labor and environmental laws, much less the ILO standards.
It sheds any pretense of having the ability to use trade sanctions if a
country that is a signatory of a trade agreement is found to be violating
international labor law (by using child labor, for example) or environmental
agreements. This legislation takes a step backwards on workers' rights and
environmental protection for already bad status quo. The deal had language
that forbids enforcement of workers' rights and environmental protection in
future fast-tracked trade agreements, reversing the minor progress that was
made on the U.S.-Jordan Free Trade Agreement.
***CHAPTER 11 IS IN: this is the investment chapter of NAFTA, which many
corporations have used to sue for "compensation" when public interest,
health and safety laws cut into their profits. Corporations say that these
laws are "tantamount to expropriation" because they "expropriate" the
company's profits, including future profits. The NAFTA tribunals where
these cases are heard are secret and presided over by appointed trade
lawyers. Example: A Canadian company, Methanex Corporation, is suing the
U.S. in a NAFTA tribunal claiming that a California ban on MTBE (a toxic
gasoline additive) is "expropriation" and that it is entitled to $970
million in "compensation" as a foreign investor. Meanwhile a U.S. company
is threatening to sue Quebec over their proposed ban of a pesticide which
the U.S. multinational manufactures (again, because the ban would lead to a
loss of future profits for the company as it would no longer be able to
export the pesticide to Quebec). On the issue of investor-state disputes,
not only did they not fix this, but the conference report gives tacit
approval to the NAFTA model!
***DAYTON-CRAIG: Provisions in the Senate bill to protect U.S. trade laws
have been stripped out. The final House-Senate compromise includes only
non-binding language that USTR should not trash these laws in negotiations.
This means that the laws steelworkers used to gain relief from unfair import
surges would be up for grabs.
***TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSISTANCE (TAA): TAA is supposed to be unemployment
benefits for workers laid off because of trade, BUT they cut out all
contract workers (high-tech etc), truck drivers, secondary workers,
fisherman and more from eligibility. They cut the amount of health care
assistance to a point it is nearly meaningless: First they added new hurdles
before folks who qualify for TAA can even qualify for this benefit. Second,
the Trade Adjustment Assistance package reduced the Senate-passed TAA
proposal on health care to a measly 65% tax credit from the government -
this a significant slap down from the 75% many thought already was too low
to make health care affordable to laid off workers. A maximum 65% benefit
would not be enough to help laid-off workers surviving week-to-week on a TAA
benefit that averages $870 a month.
***NEW GENDER DISCRIMINATION SLAP IN FACE: Unbelievably, they stripped out a
clause from GSP that would have required countries receiving these special
trade benefits to NOT have policies which discriminate against women.
(Already to get GSP countries have to be certified on other matters, such as
ACCORD REACHED ON TRADE AUTHORITY
PRESIDENT WOULD GAIN POWER TO CUT DEALS
By Juliet Eilperin and Helen Dewar
The Washington Post
July 26, 2002
House and Senate negotiators reached agreement last night on long-stalled
legislation expanding the president's authority to negotiate trade
agreements, bringing one of President Bush's top legislative priorities
close to fruition.
The bill would give the president broad powers to cut trade deals that
Congress could approve or reject, but not amend. Bush regards such authority
as necessary to assure trading partners that any agreement he strikes will
not be picked apart by Congress.
The past five presidents enjoyed this authority, but it lapsed in 1994, and
President Bill Clinton was unable to persuade a Republican-run Congress to
renew it. Bush pushed aggressively for its revival, to strengthen the
administration's hand for a new round of global and inter-American trade
talks and, more recently, to reassure nervous markets that the United States
is on the path toward economic growth.
The legislation giving the president for the next five years what is now
called "trade promotion authority" -- formerly known as fast-track -- also
includes a top Democratic priority: a multibillion-dollar package of new
health coverage, job training and other benefits for workers displaced
because of foreign competition.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), who announced the
deal along with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas
(R-Calif.) just after 11:30 p.m., described it as "the most historic trade
legislation that Congress has passed, ever."
Thomas said the measure would provide "tools to the president and to those
workers who have been displaced through no fault of their own."
The bill now goes to the House and the Senate for final approval. While the
Senate approved its version of the legislation by a 2 to 1 ratio, the House
vote was 215 to 214. Thomas said he was confident the measure would pass,
though a GOP leadership aide who asked not to be identified described the
upcoming vote as "very close."
House leaders hope to bring the compromise to a vote today, before members
leave for a month-long summer recess. The Senate plans to act next week
before it, too, leaves for its August recess.
The measure, which would provide between $10 billion and $12 billion in aid
over the next decade to workers who lose their jobs because of trade, offers
a 65 percent tax credit to cover these workers' health insurance costs as
well as job training and unemployment benefits. One of the final sticking
points was whether employees whose factories moved overseas would
automatically qualify for such benefits: Thomas objected, saying the benefit
would be too costly.
Under the compromise, workers whose companies relocated to countries that
had a preferential trade agreement with the United States would be covered.
Other workers could qualify if the U.S. trade representative determines that
the move was linked to trade.
Negotiators removed Senate language that would have allowed Congress to vote
separately on any trade pact provisions that weaken anti-dumping or other
trade-remedy laws. Instead, it includes non-binding language that would
allow members of Congress to express their objections to a particular trade
The White House had objected strongly to the Senate's anti-dumping
provision, warning that it could prompt a veto. The administration did not
issue a statement on last night's accord, but lawmakers and aides predicted
that Bush would embrace the measure.
Thomas said the bill would ensure closer "consultation between the executive
branch and the legislative branch" on trade because Congress would reserve
the right to pass a resolution of disapproval scuttling any ongoing trade
negotiations. He described the provision as "the old shotgun behind the
door" that could put pressure on the administration, but he suggested that,
rather than invoking such power, lawmakers more likely would demand
documents and briefings from administration officials during trade
The final agreement [set for a vote today] also includes language, sought by
House Republicans from textile-dependent states, that would require all
garments shipped to this country duty-free from the Caribbean, Africa or
Latin America to be produced with fabric dyed and finished in the United
Many Americans believe that expanded trade threatens U.S. jobs and, in some
cases, whole industries. Others regard it as essential to long-term economic
growth, at home and abroad. The tension between these two views makes trade
one of the most politically sensitive issues on Capitol Hill, especially
during uncertain economic times.
Republicans tend to favor expanded trade negotiating authority more than
Democrats do, but lawmakers often mingle across party lines, divided more by
regional and economic issues than by partisan politics.
The legislation was combined with a widely supported bill reinstating
duty-free trade preferences to encourage Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru
to give up drug trafficking in favor of producing other goods for
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