WASHINGTON, April 22 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today opposed an effort to rush legislation through a Senate committee in order to hurry congressional approval of a controversial trade deal known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Sanders invoked a Senate rule to stop a morning meeting of the Finance Committee to mark up the so-called fast-track bill.
“This job-killing trade deal has been negotiated in secret. It was drafted with input by special interests and corporate lobbyists but not from the elected representatives of the American people. Instead of rubber stamping the agreement, Congress and the public deserve a fair chance to learn what’s in the proposal,” Sanders said.
Sanders also sent a letter today to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman outlining serious concerns about the proposed trade agreement.
Sanders worried that the agreement would force Americans to compete with workers in low-wage nations like Malaysia and Vietnam. “Americans should not be forced to compete against desperately poor workers like those in Vietnam who make as little as 56 cents an hour,” Sanders said.
He voiced concern that the document was negotiated largely in secret but with input from hundreds of special interests and corporations. “It is absurd that a trade agreement of such enormous consequence has had so little transparency.”
He expressed serious reservations that the agreement could give foreign corporations the right to challenge U.S. laws in international courts. “It is beyond belief that this agreement would let corporations sue over laws to protect public health and the environment.”
Sanders’ stand against the 12-nation Pacific Rim trade agreement builds on his opposition of the North American Free Trade Agreement, Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China and other trade deals that contributed to closing some 60,000 U.S. factories and the disappearance of more than 4.7 million American manufacturing jobs since 2001. Proponents claimed that NAFTA would create 200,000 American jobs, but the 1994 deal led to the loss of some 680,000 jobs. The China trade agreement six years later was touted as way to create hundreds of thousands of American jobs but in fact cost 2.7 million U.S. jobs.
To read Sanders’ letter to Froman, click here.