Senate Democrats

Reid Calls on President to Put American Workers Ahead of Multinational Corporations

Democratic Leader Harry Reid asks the Bush Administration to Focus on a Commonsense Trade Policy, Not on CAFTA

Democratic Leader Harry Reid released the following statement on the Central American Free-Trade Agreement:

Washington, DC. “Today’s action on CAFTA confirms again that the Bush Administration is out of touch with the values and priorities of the average American. In recent weeks we heard that the U.S. trade deficit was on pace to set another record of almost $700 billion. The American people have not been clamoring for CAFTA. They do want a trade policy that helps reduce the enormous deficit so we don’t have to borrow so much from foreign countries, including China. They do want to ensure that trade is on a level playing field. The American people want to know that the President and the Congress are getting tough with China’s unfair currency manipulation and intellectual property piracy. The American people want to expand trade with countries that respect the basic rights of workers and protect the environment; they want trade policy to create opportunities for American workers.

Instead, the Bush Administration’s number one trade priority for the year is the CAFTA, which represents less than 1.5 percent of our global trade. It is an unbalanced agreement that provides stronger protections for multinational companies than for workers in these countries and here at home. Because of its flaws, bishops in the Central American countries have raised serious concerns about CAFTA. Democrats have called for tougher provisions to protect the rights of workers, for capacity building assistance to ensure that the poor in Central America benefit, and for strong measures to help U.S. workers remain competitive in a global economy. The Bush Administration and Republicans have resisted these commonsense changes. The Bush Administration’s misplaced priorities are evident in the difficulty he is having getting this flawed agreement through Congress. The close 11 to 9 vote in the Finance Committee shows an almost unprecedented level of opposition to this Administration’s misplaced trade priorities.”