Lawmakers’ Efforts to Smooth the Way for Peru FTA Worry the Majority of Democrats, Vulnerable Freshmen and Democratic Base

Oct. 31, 2007

Lawmakers’ Efforts to Smooth the Way for Peru FTA Worry the Majority of Democrats, Vulnerable Freshmen and Democratic Base

Statement of Lori M. Wallach, Director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch Program

It is old news that the House Ways and Means Committee supports the Peru free trade agreement (FTA) and that this committee’s votes on trade agreements often do not reflect the views of many other rank-and-file members of Congress.

However, not one Democratic base group supports this expansion of NAFTA to Peru, and scores of unions and environmental, consumer, Latino civil rights, faith, development and family farm groups oppose the deal, along with Peru’s two labor federations.

Democrats won their majority in the 2006 midterm election in no small part due to challengers who successfully campaigned against the NAFTA status quo, and voters replaced NAFTA-supporting incumbents in 37 congressional seats across the country. For these majority-making freshmen, many in vulnerable seats, Halloween offers no scare as frightful as the prospect of a Democratic-majority Congress passing another Bush NAFTA expansion agreement opposed by many of their key constituents.

That the agreement may not obtain a majority of House Democratic votes despite it being supported by the House speaker, majority leader, whip, caucus chair and powerful Ways and Means committee leaders is clear evidence that the Peru FTA is both bad policy and bad politics.

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