Casey Statement On Pending Trade Agreements

WASHINGTON, DCToday, on the floor of the U.S. Senate, Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) announced that he would vote against the three pending trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.  As Chairman of the Joint Economic Committee, Senator Casey has been focused on promoting Pennsylvania manufacturing jobs and targeting unfair trade practices that put Pennsylvania workers and companies at a disadvantage.

Senator Casey tonight released the following statement:

“It's my job as a United States Senator from Pennsylvania to fight for Pennsylvania jobs. And for too long the needs, concerns and jobs of Pennsylvania workers have been last on the list when it comes to trade agreements. The fact is that past trade agreements have failed Pennsylvania and our workers. 

“On the Senate floor earlier this year I spoke of my concerns about the three pending trade deals and raised three key questions that had to be answered: 

“Will these agreements create a substantial number of new jobs?  I am concerned they will not. If previous agreements are any indication, the South Korea, Colombia and Panama agreements will not create jobs and will in fact lead to job losses, especially in the critical manufacturing sector.  Pennsylvania has seen a dramatic decline in manufacturing employment since the early 1990s, losing 308,000 manufacturing jobs.

“Will the agreements help create a level playing field?  They will not.  The agreements fail to addresses critical issues, like violence against unionists and currency manipulation. 

“Does the agreement provide new opportunities for American manufacturers to export?  Proponents have overstated the benefits. Certain industries and firms are likely to benefit while others will not.  What is clear is that in its failure to address non-tariff barriers to trade, the agreement leaves American firms unprotected and on an unlevel playing field. 

“That is why I will vote against the agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia. 

“It is time to focus on the bigger picture: formulating a strategy that helps American manufacturers create jobs and build a stronger middle class.”

Last month, the Senate passed an extension of the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Program introduced by Senator Casey.  TAA is essential to workers who lose their jobs due to unfair trade practices through no fault of their own.  TAA provides them with short-term assistance to help with this immediate crisis, as well as training so they can acquire new skills for a new job so that they can support their families.  Senator Casey had called on Speaker Boehner to pass this TAA extension before considering the pending trade agreements.

Senator Casey joined with a bipartisan group of lawmakers to introduce legislation to crack down on China’s currency manipulation.  This legislation passed the Senate last night.