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Jeff Merkley on Free Trade

Democratic Jr Senator (OR)

 


Support free-trade, but wait on Trans-Pacific Partnership

In Congress, the crucial Oregon forest issue centers on legislation dealing with some 2.8 million acres of federal forests in western Oregon known as the Oregon & California Railroad lands. Both Wehby and Conger prefer the House-passed bill sponsored by three Oregon congressman, that would put much of the land in a state-managed trust aimed at boosting timber harvests.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., has his own somewhat more restrictive O&C plan. Conger flatly says he would vote against it if the Wyden plan came to the Senate floor. Wehby says she'd wait to see the final form.

Both lean toward supporting free-trade pacts. But neither is ready to commit on the upcoming Trans-Pacific Partnership or on legislation--known as Trade Promotion Authority--that would allow an up-or-down congressional vote on any trade agreement approved by negotiators.

Source: The Oregonian on 2014 Oregon Senate race , May 2, 2014

Oppose trade agreements that use NAFTA as a model

Jeff opposes the Peru Free Trade Agreement, and other trade agreements that use NAFTA as a model for those very reasons. Imagine for a moment just what would happen if any state in this country suddenly threw out all labor standards --the minimum wage, the right to organize workers, the 40-hour work week. And imagine what would happen if the EPA allowed them to ignore all environmental laws--if they could dump waste anywhere they wanted, if they could pollute the air with greenhouse gasses at unchecked levels. Every factory owner in the country would move their operations there, leaving workers in the rest of the states without a good paying job and without a way to provide for their families. In our global economy, moving jobs off shore is just as easy as moving them to another state. We can’t let that happen.
Source: 2008 Senate campaign website, www.jeffmerkley.com, “Issues” , Jun 3, 2008

Cancel or fix unfair trade deals

Gordon Smith has failed to oppose every single one of these bad trade deals, including NAFTA and CAFTA. Jeff Merkley will fight to end unfair trade agreements that have cost Oregon nearly 70,000 jobs. Merkley will demand enforceable environmental and labor standards to protect our planet and protect workers in America and around the world.
Source: 2008 Senate campaign website, www.jeffmerkley.com, “Issues” , Jun 3, 2008

End federal giveaways to companies that ship jobs overseas

Merkley will end loopholes that subsidize corporations that build foreign operations and let companies avoid paying taxes on the profits from those operations, shipping American jobs overseas. In 2004, Gordon Smith voted against an amendment for tax credits that would have encouraged domestic job growth and discouraged outsourcing of good American manufacturing jobs.
Source: 2008 Senate campaign website, www.jeffmerkley.com, “Issues” , Jun 3, 2008

Strengthen the Buy American Act

Over the last several decades special interests have weakened important safeguards that protect our national security and support American workers. In 2003, Gordon Smith cast the deciding vote for McCain’s amendment to encourage outsourcing by exempting the Department of Defense from the Buy American Act. Merkley will work to strengthen the Buy American Act to ensure that our government is building an American workforce that can fulfill our country’s military and national security needs.
Source: 2008 Senate campaign website, www.jeffmerkley.com, “Issues” , Jun 3, 2008

Oppose giving the President fast track trade authority

We absolutely MUST resist any attempt to give this and future Presidents fast track trade authority without Congressional oversight.
Source: 2008 Senate campaign website, www.jeffmerkley.com, “Issues” , Jun 3, 2008

Include real & enforceable labor & environmental standards

In our global economy, moving jobs off shore is just as easy as moving them to another state. We can’t let that happen. America must ensure that new trade agreements include real and enforceable labor and environmental standards. Sadly, President Bush Gordon Smith and too many others in Congress have shown little regard for making sure American workers are on a level playing field with their international competitors. Read more.
Source: 2008 Senate campaign website, www.jeffmerkley.com, “Issues” , Mar 2, 2008

Review free trade agreements biennially for rights violation.

Merkley signed H.R.3012

    Trade Reform, Accountability, Development, and Employment Act or the TRADE Act:
  1. review biennially certain free trade agreements (including Uruguay Round Agreements) between the US and foreign countries to evaluate their economic, environmental, national security, health, safety, and other effects; and
  2. report on them to the Congressional Trade Agreement Review Committee (established by this Act), including analyses of specified aspects of each agreement and certain information about agreement parties, such as whether the country has a democratic form of government, respects certain core labor rights and fundamental human rights, protects intellectual property rights, and enforces environmental laws.
    Declares that implementing bills of new trade agreements shall not be subject to expedited consideration or special procedures limiting amendment, unless such agreements include certain standards with respect to:
  1. labor;
  2. human rights;
  3. environment and public safety;
  4. food and product health and safety;
  5. provision of services;
  6. investment;
  7. procurement;
  8. intellectual property;
  9. agriculture;
  10. trade remedies and safeguards;
  11. dispute resolution and enforcement;
  12. technical assistance;
  13. national security; and
  14. taxation.
Requires the President to submit to Congress a plan for the renegotiation of existing trade agreements to bring them into compliance with such standards. Expresses the sense of Congress that certain processes for U.S. trade negotiations should be followed when Congress considers legislation providing special procedures for implementing bills of trade agreements.
Source: TRADE Act 09-HR3012 on Jun 24, 2009

Declare Turkish rebar subject to anti-dumping duties.

Merkley signed declaring Turkish rebar subject to anti-dumping duties

Excerpts from Letter from 31 Senators to the Secretary of Commerce: We write to you regarding countervailing duty and antidumping investigations being conducted by the Department of Commerce on imports of steel reinforcing bar (rebar) from Turkey and Mexico.

Rebar is one of the largest volume steel products produced in the US, employing more than 10,000 workers in over 30 states. With nearly 7 million tons of domestic production, a healthy rebar industry is critical to a strong economy. However, it is our understanding that imports from Turkey and Mexico are surging into the US, nearly doubling from 2011 to 2013.

The ITC recently found that Mexican and Turkish rebar producers are consistently underselling US producers, resulting in substantial lost sales and depressed; [plus] a preliminary finding that the Government of Turkey bestows energy subsidies to its rebar industry, but that such subsidies are only de minimis in value. This seems surprising given the inherently energy-intensive nature of steel production.

Opposing argument: (Heritage Foundation, "Guide to Antidumping Laws", July 21, 1992) One of the pillars of the "fair trade" approach is a set of so-called antidumping and countervailing duty laws. Antidumping laws seek to prevent products manufactured overseas from being sold by foreign firms in the U.S. at "less than fair value." Countervailing duties seek to offset subsidies provided by foreign governments by imposing duties at the U.S. border.

The antidumping laws are confusing and arbitrary, and in many instances merely allow American firms to secure punitive tariffs against competing importers where no unfair trade practices are involved. Worse, these laws drive up the costs of imported components used by other American enterprises, making their products less competitive in world markets. As a result, American consumers pay higher prices for both imported and domestically produced goods.

Source: Turkish Rebar Letter 14LTR-BAR on Apr 9, 2014

Voted FOR reauthorizing Ex-Im Bank.

Merkley voted NAY Export-Import Bank Reform and Reauthorization Act

Heritage Action summary of vote# S206: The Senate voted to table (kill) an amendment by Sen. Kirk to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank. Sen. Kirk recommends voting NO. Heritage Foundation recommends voting YES because the "Ex-Im Bank is little more than a $140 billion slush fund for corporate welfare."

OnTheIssues explanation: Voting NO would allow a vote on reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank. Voting YES would kill the bill for reauthorizing the Ex-Im Bank.

Sierra Club reason for conditionally voting NO (from previous bill S.819):Sen. Shaheen's bill S.824 reauthorizes the Ex-Im Bank without undermining Obama's Climate Action Plan. The Sierra Club supports the bill because it makes both financial and environmental sense for the US and all of its taxpayer-backed financial institutions--including Ex-Im--to stop investing in dirty and dangerous fossil fuels like coal.

Cato Institute reason for voting YES to kill the bill:The Ex-Im Bank's reauthorization buffs contend that Ex-Im fills a void left by private sector lenders unwilling to provide financing for certain transactions. Ex-Im's critics [say that] by effectively superseding risk-based decision-making with the choices of a handful of bureaucrats pursuing political objectives, Ex-Im risks taxpayer dollars. It turns out that for nearly every Ex-Im financing authorization that might advance the fortunes of a single US company, there is at least one US industry whose firms are put at a competitive disadvantage. These are the unseen consequences of Ex-Im's mission.

Source: Congressional vote 15-S0995 on Oct 19, 2015

$25B more loans from Export-Import Bank.

Merkley co-sponsored H.R.1031 & S.824

This bill raises the cap on outstanding loans, guarantees, and insurance of the Export-Import Bank of the United States for FY2015-FY2022 and afterwards. The Bank shall:

Opponents reasons for voting NAY: (Washington Examiner, 12/2/12): The Export-Import Bank is a taxpayer-backed agency that finances U.S. exports, primarily though loan guarantees. You'd think the bank would spread the money around to nurture up-and-coming businesses. You'd be wrong, very wrong. In fact, 83% of its taxpayer-backed loan guarantees in 2012 went to just one exporter: Boeing. Welcome to the "New Economic Patriotism," where the big get bigger and taxpayers bear the risk. Ex-Im is at the heart of Obama's National Export Initiative and is a pillar of the economic patriotism that Obama pledged in a second term. When government hands out more money, the guys with the best lobbyists and the closest ties to power will disproportionately get their hands on that money. Obama has spent four years pushing more subsidies, more bailouts and more regulations. "New Economic Patriotism" basically amounts to a national industrial policy -- Washington championing certain major domestic companies and industries, as if the global economy were an Olympic competition.

Source: Promoting U.S. Jobs Through Exports Act 15-S824 on Mar 19, 2015

Implement USMCA for improved North American trade.

Merkley voted YEA USMCA Implementation Act

Summary from Congressional Record and Wikipedia:Vote to amend the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and establish the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). Rather than a wholly new agreement, it has been characterized as "NAFTA 2.0"; final terms were negotiated on September 30, 2018 by each country. The agreement is scheduled to come into effect on July 1, 2020.

Case for voting YES by Rep. Charlie Crist (D-FL); (Dec. 19, 2019)The USMCA includes stronger protections for American workers and enforceable labor standards, as well as environmental protections. It eliminates the Trump Administration's threat that the US could walk away entirely from the trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, which would devastate US jobs and our economy.

Case for voting NO by Jared Huffman (D-CA); (Dec. 19, 2019) Democratic negotiators did a lot to improve Donald Trump's weak trade deal, especially in terms of labor standards and enforcement, but the final deal did not reach the high standard that I had hoped for. The NAFTA renegotiations were a once-in-a-generation opportunity to lift labor and environmental standards across the continent--to lock in serious climate commitments with two of our largest trading partners and dramatically improve labor standards and enforcement to slow the rise of outsourcing.

Legislative outcome: Bill Passed (Senate) (89-10-1) - Jan. 16, 2020; bill Passed (House) (385-41-5) - Dec. 19, 2019; signed at the G20 Summit simultaneously by President Trump, Mexican President Enrique Nieto, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Nov. 30, 2018

Source: Congressional vote 19-HR5430 on Dec 19, 2019

Rated 50% by the USAE, indicating a mixed record on trade.

Merkley scores 50% by USA*Engage on trade issues

Ratings by USA*Engage indicate support for trade engagement or trade sanctions. The organization's self-description: "USA*Engage is concerned about the proliferation of unilateral foreign policy sanctions at the federal, state and local level. Despite the fact that broad trade-based unilateral sanctions rarely achieve our foreign policy goals, they continue to have political appeal. Unilateral sanctions give the impression that the United States is 'doing something,' while American workers, farmers and businesses absorb the costs."

VoteMatch scoring for the USA*Engage ratings is as follows :

Source: USA*Engage 2011-2012 ratings on Congress and politicians 2012-USAE on Dec 31, 2012

Other candidates on Free Trade: Jeff Merkley on other issues:
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