By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Monday, May 18, US Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) responded to criticism that he has recently received from the business community and the Wall Street Journal because of his skepticism over yet another free trade agreement.
Sen. Sessions wrote that, “According to Republican pollster Frank Luntz, Americans believe by a 70 to 30 margin that past trade agreements have helped other countries rather than the US. And with surging trade deficits, closing factories, reduced wages and record-low workforce participation, who can blame them?”
Sen. Sessions continued, “Your editorial ‘No-Growth Republicanism’ (May 11) urging the adoption of fast-track trade makes many assurances of economic gains but provides no data to back them up. Americans were promised that the South Korean trade deal, which I supported, would boost our exports to them by $10 billion. Instead, our exports to South Korea increased less than $1 billion, while its imports to us soared more than $12 billion—widening our trade gap substantially. We’ve lost two million manufacturing jobs to the Asia region since 2000.”
Sen. Sessions wrote, “I sent a letter to the president asking fundamental questions about how his new global trade pact would impact jobs, wages and trade deficits. He has refused to say. Years of rising trade deficits and job losses demand greater scrutiny of new trade deals, not less. Fast track will dramatically reduce Congress’s power over the new Trans-Pacific Partnership, as well as any other yet-unseen trade agreements over the next six years. No lawmaker can amend any provision, enforce any violation or apply the 60-vote threshold used for significant legislative matters (let alone the 7 votes for treaties).”
Senator Sessions wrote that, “The agreement will also be, for the first time, a “living agreement,” and contains language that the president could use to advance other agendas and promulgate an array of new executive actions—including to expand foreign-worker programs. There is more at stake here than capital flow. Manufacturing, rising wages and good jobs are essential.” ”And with surging trade deficits, closing factories, reduced wages and record-low workforce participation, who can blame them?”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) on Monday released a report that stated, “We have two decades of experience with free trade agreements under both Democratic and Republican Presidents. Supporters of these agreements have always promised that they contain tough standards to protect workers…The rhetoric has not matched the reality…The United States does not enforce the labor protections in its trade agreements.” Sen. Warren’s report concludes. The Obama Administration is seeking fast track authority from the Senate for any trade pacts it reaches including the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Sen. Jeff Sessions has represented Alabama in the U.S. Senate since 1996.