BURLINGTON, Vt., Aug. 26 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Friday that opponents of a bad trade deal scored a major victory with an announcement by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) that the Senate will not vote this year on the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership.
“I welcome Majority Leader McConnell’s announcement that he will block a vote in the Senate this year on the disastrous, job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership. This is good news for American workers, for the environment and for the ability to protect public health.”
A leading opponent of the proposed Pacific rim trade pact, Sanders welcomed McConnell’s turnaround on the measure. The Republican leader on Thursday told an audience in Kentucky that he won’t bring the pact to the Senate floor for a vote this year because it “has some serious flaws.” Last June 23, McConnell engineered congressional passage of a measure that gave President Barack Obama and future presidents power to “fast-track” negotiations with the 11 other countries which are parties to the deal. He called it “a very important accomplishment for our country.”
“What changed between then and now is that the American people have sent a loud and clear message to Sen. McConnell and others that they are tired of big corporations sending American manufacturing plants and jobs to low-wage nations overseas,” Sanders said.
A majority of Americans, 52 percent, says trade deals with other countries do more harm than good because they send U.S. jobs overseas and drive down wages, according to a June survey by the Brookings Institution and the Public Religion Research Institute. Sixty percent of Republicans say the agreements are mostly harmful to the U.S.
Sanders also has harshly criticized the so-called investor state dispute system in the proposal and other trade pacts. The system gives multi-national corporations and other investors the power to seek damages from an international tribunal if they believe governmental decisions hurt profits. TransCanada, for example, has used the system to demand $15 billion from U.S. taxpayers over the Obama administration’s correct decision to stop construction of the Keystone pipeline because it would accelerate global warming. Sanders has called the dispute system “insane.”
“This treaty is opposed by every trade union in the country and virtually the entire grassroots base of the Democratic Party. In my view, it is now time for the leadership of the Democratic Party in the Senate and the House to go on the record in opposition to holding a vote on this job-killing trade deal during the lame-duck session of Congress and beyond,” Sanders said. “We need to defeat this treaty and fundamentally rewrite our trade policies to create good-paying jobs in this country and throughout the world and end the race to the bottom.”