Thursday, November 17, 2016

Tim Kaine on Trans-Pacific Partnership

From U.S. Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA), to all who signed a petition recently linked here...his e-mail really fouled up in my "old" browser. I had to run it through Word and manually remove a lot of line breaks that mysteriously popped out of nowhere (not visible in the original e-mail!) Plainer text is always better, Senator.

[very fancy letterhead graphic]

Thank you for contacting me about the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  I appreciate hearing from you.

One of the major objectives of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is to expand trade and investment opportunities in the Asia-Pacific region.

This region includes some of the world's most robust economies that can offer new opportunities for American workers and businesses.  That is why in March 2013, President Obama called on Congress to help bolster the negotiating credibility of the U.S. throughout the TPP discussions by reauthorizing Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which would expedite trade negotiations, enable Congress to define trade objectives, and allow trade agreements to be considered under expedited legislative procedures.

In June 2015, after much discussion with labor, business, and agricultural leaders across the Commonwealth, I voted for TPA legislation, which simply gave President Obama the same authority to negotiate trade deals as every President since 1974.  Through TPA, Congress outlined concrete objectives that elevated environmental, labor, and human rights standards.  TPA also required trade deals submitted to Congress for ratification to be transparent and provide for an extended period of review and reaction from the public.  After voting for TPA, I voted for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) legislation that provides essential aid to workers adversely affected by global trade.  I was unwilling to consider TPA without TAA and strong customs enforcement provisions.  My support for TPA was not a blind endorsement of the TPP, which at the time had not yet been finalized.

In November 2015, the text of the TPP was publicly released.  After careful review of the agreement, extensive dialogue with the people of Virginia, and thoughtful deliberation, I have concluded that I cannot support the TPP's ratification in its current form.  Although the TPP makes some progress in reducing barriers to trade and raising global trade standards, it ultimately falls short.  One particular provision that I take issue with allows corporations to sue national governments over domestic laws and regulations that affect profits but does not extend the same dispute settlement mechanism to labor or environmental groups.

While the U.S. stands strong to compete in a globalized and interconnected economy, the rules and playing field must be leveled.  That is why as Co-Chair of the Senate Career and Technical Education (CTE) Caucus, I strongly support investments that help ensure American workers have access to the higher education and advanced technical skills needed to prosper.

Moving forward, I will continue to support efforts that protect and create new economic opportunities for communities in Virginia and across the country.

Thank you again for contacting me.

[nice signature graphic: Tim Kaine]