After Reviewing Draft Text, Pocan Expresses Strong Concerns with Trans-Pacific Partnership
WASHINGTON—As the United States announced today it expects to complete work on a major new foreign trade agreement by the end of the year, U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan today expressed continued concerns with the deal and encouraged Congress not to “fast track” the agreement for approval. Pocan recently reviewed sections of the bracketed draft text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement currently being negotiated between the United States and 11 other countries in the Pacific region, and believes the current language would put Wisconsin workers, jobs and local businesses at a disadvantage and ship American jobs overseas.
This summer, Pocan led a letter with 35 other freshman lawmakers calling for increased transparency from the administration on TPP and urging Congress not to give up its constitutional authority to oversee foreign trade agreements.
“In Wisconsin we’ve already suffered through the effects of massive trade deals that shipped our jobs overseas and took “Made in America” products off our shelves. Unfortunately, this new trade agreement appears to be no better than deals of the past, and from what I can tell, may even be worse,” said Pocan. “Beyond putting Wisconsin workers and local businesses at a disadvantage, the agreement as it stands now would likely do nothing to prevent the grave labor and environmental abuses currently perpetuated by many of our trade “friends.” While administration officials may be determined to complete negotiations by the end of the year, Congress is obligated not to rush its Constitutional-oversight without addressing provisions that could have lasting consequences for our economy.”
The Constitution provides Congress with the authority to oversee all international trade agreements. But if recent precedent is followed, the TPP would likely reach the House floor with limited opportunities for Congress to offer input, and without the ability for Congress to amend the text.
After Pocan reviewed specific sections of the agreement focused on procurement and labor, he had particular concerns regarding:
- The protection of Buy American and other procurement policies
- The ability to prevent harmful labor practices abroad
- The enforcement of environmental protections
- How participating nations could address humanitarian concerns
- The determination of how jurisdictions, both in the U.S. and abroad, would be subject to the agreement
“Some of the countries that are currently negotiating the TPP with the United States have atrocious labor practices,” Pocan said. “In order to bring these nations into the agreement, we will likely have to lower our standards, not raise them, and make it even harder to keep jobs in our country.”
As a member of the Wisconsin State Assembly, Pocan led the passage of the American Jobs Act, which required all state contracts be performed in the United States.