WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-5), a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee, on Thursday voted against H.R. 1890, the so-called “fast track” legislation that would allow for Congress to consider future trade deals without the ability to offer amendments.
The legislation, considered Thursday by the House Ways and Means Committee, would allow negotiated trade treaties to be submitted to Congress for an up or down vote.
Members of Congress would not be able to offer amendments to improve trade deals.
“If trade deals are done right, they can be a huge win for our economy. I witnessed this firsthand on a recent congressional trip to South East Asia. It’s an enormous market, and if we can gain access to this market, while protecting American jobs, then we could see a big boost in our exports. If we boost our exports, businesses grow, wages rise, and new jobs are created,” said Thompson.
“Improvements can be to this bill to strengthen important benchmarks such as the creation and protection of good American jobs, improved market access for U.S. goods, strong labor and environmental standards, and meaningful congressional oversight. A good trade bill has the potential to address these concerns, but unfortunately both sides couldn’t come together to make the necessary improvements,” he continued.
“We should do all we can to grow exports because it means more jobs, but it cannot be done at the expense of American workers, health and safety, and the environment. There is room for improvement in this bill and it is my hope that we can work across the aisle to make those improvements as the bill moves forward,” Thompson added.
Thompson offered two amendments during the Ways and Means Committee hearing.
The first amendment would require that any trade deal negotiated by the Administration recognize the serious and growing issue of global climate change and promote international collaboration and cooperation to mitigate and address its impacts.
The second amendment offered by Thompson would require that all trade deals negotiated by the Administration safeguard United States labor, environment, and public health laws and practices.
Under this amendment, all negotiated trade deals would have to include provisions prohibiting foreign governments and companies from suing the United Sates on the grounds that that United Sates labor, environment or public health laws constitute unfair trade barriers.
For example, under this amendment a foreign government or company could not sue the United States by claiming California’s clean air and water standards constitute an unfair trade barrier.
Both of Thompson’s amendments were voted down.
The bill passed out of committee by a vote of 25-13. 23 Republicans and two Democrats voted in favor of the legislation. It now goes to the floor for consideration by the full House of Representatives.
Thompson represents California’s Fifth Congressional District, which includes all or part of Contra Costa, Lake, Napa, Solano and Sonoma counties.