Merkley Supports Bill to Level the Playing Field for American Workers

Washington, D.C.
– Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley
announced today that he has co-sponsored legislation to reform existing trade
policy that has put American workers at a disadvantage in the global
marketplace.  The Trade Reform, Accountability, Development and Employment
(TRADE) Act sets standards for labor, environmental, and other basic
protections in new trade agreements, creates a path forward to fix problems in
our existing trade arrangements, and establishes new procedures for garnering
broad public and Congressional consensus on trade.

“We need fair trade policies that give our workers a fair
shake,” said Merkley.   “We must reevaluate the trade agreements that
leave hardworking Americans behind by encouraging companies to ship jobs
overseas.  Instead, we should take real steps toward developing smart
trade policies that create opportunity for our workers and benefit our

The TRADE Act lays out standards for new trade agreements to
ensure they respect fundamental labor and environmental protections, enhances
our ability to protect food and product safety, and prevents backdoor
deregulation.   It also requires the Government Accountability Office
(GAO) to review the economic impact as well as the enforcement and compliance
of existing trade agreements and directs the President to prepare a plan to
address gaps where existing trade agreements do not comply with TRADE Act

In addition, the bill takes steps towards creating new
procedures for approving trade agreements.  To ensure that future trade
agreements reflect broad public consensus and support among American workers
and businesses, the TRADE Act replaces the expired ‘Fast Track’ mechanism with
procedures to consult with Congress at an early stage in trade negotiations and
in advance of signing.

When the rules are fair, American workers can compete with anyone,” said
Merkley.  “However, for far too long, we’ve allowed unfair rules to undermine
our values and harm our economy.  We can begin to undo that damage and
create the jobs we need by building a trade system that puts American workers
on a level playing field and ensures that the other countries with whom we do
business with treat their workers fairly and abide by environmental

The Trade Reform, Accountability, Development, and
Employment Act was introduced by Senator Brown (D-OH) and co-sponsored by
Senator Merkley and Senators Dorgan (D- ND), Feingold (D-WI), Casey (D-PA),
Whitehouse (D-RI) and Sanders (I-VT).