Clarke opposes trade agreement

Brooklyn Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke said she opposed a bill before the United States House of Representatives because it threatened jobs for Americans.

“I oppose the Trade Adjustment Assistance Act because, if it had passed, the three parts of ‘Fast Track,’ which includes the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement that would effectively undermine the rights of American workers, as well as our intellectual property and environmental protection laws would have also passed,” Clarke, who represents the 9th Congressional District in Brooklyn, told Caribbean Life.

H.R. 1088, the Trade Adjustment Assistance Act of 2015, failed to pass in the House of Representatives by a vote of 126 “ayes” and 302 “noes.” Clarke voted “no.”

To enact the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement (TPP), the House of Representatives would also have to pass the Trade Adjustment Assistance Act (TAA), because the Senate version of the agreement includes both TPP and TAA.

“The agreement would contribute to a ‘race to the bottom,’ in which corporations that pay their workers low wages and fail to provide adequate benefits would have the ability to expand exports in the United States, undermining our workers who earn a living wage with fair benefits,” said Clarke, a member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce in the House of Representatives, and a member of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing and Trade.

In addition, Clarke said she was concerned that the agreement could require the United States to impose serious criminal penalties for even minor violations of copyright laws — such as a person sharing songs with his or her friends — that under current laws are penalized only by civil damages.

The agreement would also threaten the environment, here in the United States and around the world, by allowing corporations to claim damages from the government for any policy that reduces their profits.

“Both federal and states laws that prohibit oil drilling or strip mining in protected natural areas could conceivably result in a lawsuit,” Clarke said.

“I voted ‘no’ to all three parts that would create ‘Fast Track,’” she added. “Without adequate protections for our workers, our environment, and our existing intellectual property laws, I cannot support this agreement.”