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Wyden, Merkley split votes on ‘fast track’ trade bill


Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., praised Wednesday’s passage of trade legislation in the U.S. Senate to allow the president to complete trade agreements, and the expected passage of a bill to expand key worker assistance programs. But fellow Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley voted no, and explained why.

The Trade Promotion Authority bill passed 60-38, on a bipartisan vote.

“Today the U.S. Senate voted on a bipartisan basis to step into the ring with the world and fight for the best deals for American workers and employers, instead of retreating to our corner,” Wyden said.

“From the beginning, President Obama and I have been committed to crafting the most progressive trade legislation ever. Better trade bills produce better trade agreements. So I’m proud to say this trade package will create the opportunity for new, good-paying jobs, to strengthen support for American workers, and to give our trade laws the teeth they need to crack down on trade cheats.

“The trade package the Senate passed today will end the race to the bottom on labor, human rights, the environment and promote an open Internet. This framework raises the bar on all of the values that Oregonians and Americans hold dear.

“This is a blueprint for trade done right.”

Senator Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., released the following statement after the Senate passed “fast track” trade legislation for the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other future trade deals:

“When crafting a new trade structure, our national objective should be raising wages and living standards for middle-class Americans.

“Past trade deals have consistently failed to live up to their promises and made it harder for working Americans to get ahead. Unfortunately, the fast track bill passed by the Senate today does not change that fundamental structure – a structure which has led so many past trade deals to create job losses and falling wages for working Americans.

“Many Americans understand that competing for jobs with workers earning rock-bottom wages in other countries hurts them and hurts our economy. That’s why I pressed to use this opportunity to make sure that future agreements truly have meaningful, rising labor and environmental standards, and that they’re able to be enforced.

“Despite the hard work of many on both sides of this debate, this trade framework ultimately does not achieve enforceable standards on critical issues like minimum wages, currency manipulation, environmental standards, and labor standards. Thus, while some industries may benefit from this framework, new trade deals under this structure will hurt American workers. That’s why I voted ‘no’ on fast track today.”

TPA now goes to the President for his signature, while TAA is expected to pass the House on Thursday. A customs and enforcement bill is expected to be finalized in early July.

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