July 27, 2002
Midsummer Night?s Massacre: Controversial 304-page “Trade” Bill Few Have Read is Rammed Through Congress at 3:30AM by Razor Thin Margin
Statement by Lori Wallach, Director of Public Citizen?s Global Trade Watch
This travesty of a vote will be remembered as the Midsummer Night?s Massacre, where growing popular concern about corporate-led globalization was shot down in favor of a backwards policy combining corporate managed trade and global deregulation of basic consumer, environmental and other public interest standards.
Over the past decade, public opposition to NAFTA-style trade deals has grown so strong that now the only way to move this policy is to ram through at 3:00 a.m. in the dark of night 304 pages of legislation combining five different trade bills which was unavailable for public or congressional review until hours before the vote.
This Fast Track bill is supposed to set the next five years of U.S. trade and globalization policy. If U.S. negotiators follow the outrageous agenda in this bill, including a 31-nation NAFTA expansion and global deregulation of food safety, accounting, energy and other standards, the resulting agreements would be dead on arrival in Congress and in the court of public opinion.
A tidal wave of hypocrisy ripped through Washington?s wee hours. It has been a tawdry spectacle to watch the GOP House leadership and President Bush ramming through a “trade” bill which has as its main agenda promoting massive global corporate deregulation just hours after crowing about passage of new regulations aimed at the corporate crime wave caused by the very sort of deregulation this bill promotes globally.
The trade package included authorization to negotiate a 31-nation Free Trade Area of the Americas NAFTA expansion, new limits on enforcement of labor or environmental standards in trade agreements, a modest Trade Adjustment Assistance program, and an expansion to more nations of the investor-to-state lawsuits of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which allows foreign corporations to challenge domestic regulatory standards before trade tribunals if they limit future expected profits.