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Passing rules on a trade pact: Is it enough? Wyden says yes…

Sen. Ron Wyden D-Oregon

Sen. Ron Wyden
D-Oregon

Wyden: Senate Votes to Pass Progressive Trade Policy, Boost Oregon Jobs

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate strongly endorsed a modern, progressive trade policy, in a vote Friday passing Trade Promotion Authority legislation co-authored by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., by a 62-37 vote.

Wyden said the vote for the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015, which was strongly supported by President Obama, was an endorsement of a new, progressive trade policy.

“Today the U.S. Senate closed the door on the 1990s and NAFTA-style trade deals. Congress sent the message that trade done right will open new markets to red-white-and-blue-products while raising the bar on the environment, labor and human rights values Oregonians hold dear at the same time,” Wyden said. “This legislation tells the administration to seek out the strongest possible deals that will create new Oregon jobs, protect the open Internet, and contribute to a growing middle class around the world that is anxious to buy the wine, wheat, electronics, berries, bikes and everything else that Oregonians grow and produce.”

The legislation directs the administration on the goals it should seek in trade agreements. In exchange, Congress agrees to vote on trade deals in a timely manner.

Wyden worked for more than a year to co-author the most progressive trade promotion bill ever. Wyden insisted on new rules, including:

-This bill ensures that the days of secret trade deals becoming law are finally over. Any new trade agreement, INCLUDING the Trans-Pacific Partnership, must be public for months before Congress votes on it, and at least 60 days before the president signs it.
-It puts U.S. laws first, by stating plainly that no trade agreement can overturn or undo U.S. laws.

-It raises the bar on American values, including the environment, labor and human rights. Trading partners must adopt and maintain core international labor standards, with trade sanctions if they do not comply. They must adopt and maintain common multilateral environmental agreements, with trade sanctions if they do not comply. And the bill establishes directives for trade agreements to foster innovation and promote access to medicines

-It promotes an open Internet, by pushing for the free flow of information around the world, and fighting against countries that would put walls around the Internet to restrict free speech and digital commerce.

-It supports the American workforce, by renewing and expanding Trade Adjustment Assistance. The bill includes funding to ensure support for every U.S. worker affected by trade, and expands eligibility to U.S. service sector workers and those impacted by countries with which the U.S. does not have a trade agreement, including India and China.

-It renews the Health Coverage Tax Credit, so workers who lose their jobs won’t have to lose their health insurance.

Here’s another slant on the story, also from the Oregonian. Click here.

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