Rep. Huffman: Today’s Vote Yet Another Reason to Vote Against Bad Trade Agreements
WASHINGTON, D.C.-Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) today released the following statement after reluctantly voting for the Country of Origin Labeling Amendments Act (HR 2393), which eliminates the country-of-origin labeling requirements for pork, beef, and chicken, in response to a World Trade Organization ruling that these labeling requirements violate international trade obligations:
"If anyone doubts that bad trade deals will undermine American laws protecting consumers, workers, public health and the environment, look no further than today's vote.
"The WTO decision against our Country of Origin Labelling (COOL) law may not have repealed the law outright, but the threat of massive trade sanctions—over $1 billion for California products alone—is the political equivalent of a gun to the head. To prevent devastating economic impacts to wine, dairy and other industries in my district, I reluctantly voted for H.R. 2393 in hopes that it will lead to a compromise bill with the Senate. We should work with the Senate to revise, rather than repeal, the COOL law even if it means continuing to fight our NAFTA 'partners' at the WTO.
“Strong food safety standards are worth fighting for. I hope this awful Catch-22 of a vote gives my congressional colleagues pause about granting Trade Promotion Authority later this week. This should be 'Exhibit A' against trade deals like the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership that expose American laws protecting consumers, workers, public health and the environment to indirect repeal by international trade tribunals."
Last October, the WTO ruled in favor of Canada and Mexico and found that the United States' country-of-origin labeling rules unfairly grant advantages to domestic meat producers. If these labeling requirements are not repealed or modified to conform to WTO's ruling, trade rules allow Canada and Mexico to move ahead with massive retaliatory tariffs they have proposed against U.S. products, including California wine and dairy products.
"Today's vote clearly demonstrates the dangers lurking beneath the text of trade agreements like NAFTA and TPP," said Huffman.