Waco (June 27, 2002) - Texas Farmers Union (TFU) expressed disappointment with the U.S. House vote to send "fast-track" trade-promotion authority legislation to conference committee, particularly after it was amended by an unusual procedural vote yesterday.
House Ways and Means Chair Bill Thomas, R-Calif., included additonal provisions to the already-passed H.R. 3005 that would eliminate farmer and rancher eligibility for trade adjustment assistance for those negatively impacted by the trade.
"We are extremely disappointed in this action from not only a procedural standpoint but, more importantly, because agriculture producers are likely to fall victim to negotiations conducted by the Administration if the House provisions prevail in conference," said Texas Farmers Union President, Wes Sims.
Sims said yesterday's House vote weakened a key amendment included in the Senate's trade agreement provisions concerning domestic trade remedy laws to be considered separately within the "fast-track" measures. The Senate provision, sponsored by Sens. Mark Dayton, D-Minn., and Larry Craig, R-Idaho, would safeguard domestic laws that are used to address unfair trade practices of others who export in to the United States.
The Farmers Union leader said he also disapproves of the legislation's failure to address the major issues effecting U.S. agriculture's international competitiveness, such as exchange rates, currency valuations and labor and environmental standards.
Once the Senate appoints its conferees, the Senate and House bills will be further debated in the conference committeee until an agreement is reached that can be returned to both bodies for final consideration.
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