Merkley Supports Bill to Level the Playing Field for American Workers

Merkley Supports Bill to Level the Playing Field for American Workers

Co-Sponsors the Trade Reform, Accountability, Development and Employment (TRADE) Act to Reform and Strengthen Current Trade Policy

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 economy.” 

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 standards. 

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 guidelines.”

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).