WASHINGTON, D.C. – As Congress prepares to debate “fast track” authority for more NAFTA-style trade agreements, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today joined labor leaders, workers, and environmental activists to stand up for American jobs and call for fair trade that puts American workers and businesses first. Along with the United Steelworkers (USW), AFL-CIO, American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Union for Government Employees (AFGE), National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC), Sierra Club, and other lawmakers, Brown warned against Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), known as “fast track.”
“We have seen the devastating impact of NAFTA-style trade agreements in Ohio and across the United States. By giving the Administration fast track authority, we set the stage for more of these agreements that hurt American workers and ship our jobs overseas,” said Brown. “Our trade policies should level the playing field, punish those who violate the law, and strengthen our middle class. The last thing we need is another trade deal negotiated behind closed doors and rushed through Congress.”
Congress is preparing to debate giving the Administration renewed TPA to conclude Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, as well as other trade initiatives. In the past, fast track authority has resulted in NAFTA-style trade deals that have shipped jobs overseas, shuttered Ohio manufacturing facilities, and given handouts to the biggest multinational corporations. Under #NotAnotherNAFTA, Brown is leading the opposition to fast track and TPP in the Senate and demanding trade policy that puts American jobs first.
In March, Brown introduced legislation that would improve enforcement of trade laws and strengthen U.S. industries’ ability to fight back against unfair foreign trade practices. The Leveling the Playing Field Act would restore strength to antidumping and countervailing duty laws that allow businesses and workers in the United States to petition the Commerce Department and the International Trade Commission (ITC) when foreign producers sell goods in the U.S. below market price or receive illegal subsidies.
In February 2015, Brown introduced a bill to extend and improve Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), set to expire in September. TAA provided retraining assistance to more than 20,000 Ohio workers between 2009 and 2014, but the current program leaves out workers who lose their jobs to countries like China – with which the U.S. does not have a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) – or to workers in the service sector. Brown’s bill – the Trade Adjustment Assistance Act – would extend the reauthorization for TAA and expand eligibility requirements to reflect 21st century realities.
Brown has also led the fight against currency manipulation in the Senate. He was the lead sponsor of a bipartisan bill that would stand up for American manufacturers by punishing countries like China that cheat by manipulating currency. Brown’s bipartisan legislation, the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act, would use U.S. trade law to counter the economic harm to American manufacturers caused when countries unfairly undervalue their currency to give their exports an unfair price advantage. The bill would provide consequences for countries that fail to adopt appropriate policies to eliminate currency misalignment—all without adding a dime to the federal budget. Brown has also urged the Administration to include protections against currency manipulation in TPP.