Portman, Murphy, Stabenow, Brown, Whitehouse, Franken

Vehicle for Trade Promotion Authority (H.R. 1314)

Senator Portman: (4:40 PM)

  • Spoke on trade.
    • "As a former U.S. trade representative who has been involved in these negotiations, who has taken into account negotiating objectives, I can tell you these three-judge panels are objective. That's the whole idea. And then they determine whether there has been manipulation under the agreement that the parties have reached. So what this says is let's raise this issue, let's have a discussion about it. It's a negotiating objective. And let's see what we can agree with, with the parties, and let's make it subject to the same dispute resolution you would have with other issues, such as the environment, such as labor, so that it's actually enforceable. So the question on the floor is going to be do you support getting rid of currency manipulation because you know that it affects the people you represent negatively, and the answer is going to be a resounding yes. By the way, 60 United States senators wrote a letter in the last Congress, 60 of them saying that in trade agreements, there ought to be enforceable currency manipulation provisions, 60 senators. This amendment would require 51 because it's germane."


Senator Murphy: (5:05 PM)

  • Spoke on trade.
    • "Because of a waiver to the Buy America Law, the contract was awarded by the Department of Defense to the European firm, taken away from Ansonia Copper and Brass. Because of the waiver, Ansonia Copper and Brass went out of business. We have no way in the United States to produce copper nickel tubing, some of the most important components to the American sub fleet in the United States gone. Our capacity has ended. And you can't just rebuild this because this is a really specialized kind of material, a really specialized kind of product. Once that equipment, once that expertise is gone, you can't just start it back overnight. That has real security consequences for the United States. But I would argue even more importantly, it has serious economic consequences for the men and women who were laid off about a year ago from Ansonia Copper and Brass because of the an ill-thought out waiver to the Buy America clause that compromises our economic security and our national security. Let's just pledge to have a debate about that on the floor of the United States Senate before we come to a final vote on Trade Promotion Authority."


Senator Stabenow: (5:14 PM)

  • Spoke on trade.
    • "They cannot have it both ways. Either they intend to do it again and that's why they're objecting to an agreement with any kind of currency manipulation enforcement or they're not going to do it again and it shouldn't matter. You can't have it both ways on this debate. And the fact that folks are trying to have it both ways makes me very concerned about what is really going on in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. So I would urge colleagues to join Senator Portman and me in passing this very reasonable amendment to make currency manipulation a priority in our negotiations."


Senator Brown: (5:30 PM)

  • Spoke on trade.
    • "That's why the Stabenow amendment is so important on currency, why brown-Portman on level the playing field, we have a half dozen Republican sponsors and a number of Democratic sponsors on level the playing field. That language was so not controversial that in the Finance Committee it was adopted in the underlying package in the manager's amendment in the underlying bill that Senator Hatch and Senator Wyden negotiated at the beginning of that hearing a month or so ago. I applaud senator Stabenow still on the floor for her work on currency and I urge my colleagues first of all to make pending the level the playing field and second to move on this legislation. And I appreciate also that the leadership that Senator Whitehouse who just joined us on the floor that he showed on these trade agreements, too."


Senator Whitehouse: (5:36 PM)

  • Spoke on trade.
    • "We about a year ago as a Senate unanimously by voice vote ratified four treaties that helped protect American fisheries from illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing around the world. What's called pirate fishing. This was an effort of the Oceans Caucus, it was led by myself and then Senator Begich on our side, and Senator Murkowski and Senator Wicker on the other side. It was hotlined on both sides and cleared. So it's a useful treaty to be in, it's important for our American fishing industry to make sure that they are not being punished or harmed by foreign competitors who aren't fishing sustainably, who are fishing illegally, who are violating the laws of the jurisdiction in which they're fishing and because of their misbehavior they're able to bring catch to market less expensively than fishermen who play by the rules."


Senator Franken: (5:39 PM)

  • Spoke on trade.
    • "One of my amendments would strengthen the negotiating objective on labor and environmental standards in the Trade Promotion Authority bill. Right now the bill effectively says that partner countries violate those standards only when they fail to enforce labor environmental laws on a sustained and recurring basis. The notion that violations of standards need to be sustained and recurring to really count as violations is not found elsewhere in the bill and doesn't hold with respect to, for example, intellectual property, digital trade or regulatory practices. So my very simple amendment would take out sustained and recurring so that a labor violation is a labor violation. My other amendment is my Community College to Career Fund Act which is designed to address the skills gap where there are jobs open in our country because there aren't workers with the right skills to fill them."