Budzinski Leads Every Freshman Democrat in Advocating for Worker-Centered, Climate-Friendly Trade Policy

WASHINGTON — Today, Congresswoman Nikki Budzinski (IL-13) and Congressman Chris Deluzio (PA-17) led every freshman Democrat in the 118th Congress on a letter to President Biden urging that the proposed Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) and other pending trade agreements include strong worker and environmental protections and digital provisions that protect consumers and foster fair competition.

“As new Members of Congress representing diverse districts across the United States, we look forward to working with you to ensure U.S. trade policy delivers for working people, helps to build a more resilient and fair economy, safeguards the environment, public health, and civil rights, and ensures independent farms, small businesses, and innovators can succeed,” wrote the Members. “As your administration implements important new industrial policies and begins negotiations on new trade policies, we respectfully urge you to work with us and our constituents in a transparent and inclusive manner.”

IPEF is a proposed trade agreement between the United States and thirteen other Indo-Pacific nations that would set rules governing approximately 40% of the global economy. It is one of several U.S. trade initiatives currently under negotiation.

Today’s letter — which was drafted in cooperation with Citizens Trade Campaign, a national coalition of labor, environmental, family farm, faith and consumer organizations working together to improve U.S. trade policy — reflects both congress members’ and civil society groups’ interest in partnering with the administration to advance trade policies that contribute a more fair and sustainable global economy.

“Working families need congressional allies who are committed to building domestic manufacturing capacity and to backing trade deals that prioritize communities rather than corporations,” said United Steelworkers (USW) International President Tom Conway. “The USW is grateful for Reps. Budzinski and Deluzio and the whole Democratic freshmen class as they advocate for sound, worker-centered trade and industrial policies that will advance workers’ rights abroad and protect good-paying jobs at home.”

“We support the freshmen class’ efforts to create new climate-friendly trade rules that fight inequities, protect American workers, foster healthy communities, and advance environmental justice,” said Hebah Kassem, Director of the Living Economy Program at the Sierra Club. “For far too long, outdated trade agreements have put corporate interests over people. This letter is another sign that Congress understands it’s time for trade policies that uphold high environmental and labor standards.”

“Congress not only recognizes the harm caused by past trade agreements, but is increasingly alert to the dangers that advancing certain ‘digital trade’ provisions would pose to consumer privacy, data security, AI accountability, anti-trust and other public interest areas,” said Melinda St. Louis, Director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. “The transparent, inclusive trade policymaking process that Representatives Budzinski, Deluzio and others are championing can help avoid pitfalls like this, while continuing the work of transforming trade policy into a tool for improving the lives of people throughout the United States and around the globe.”

The full text of Congresswoman Budzinski’s letter can be found here and below:

The Honorable Joseph R. Biden
President of the United States
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C., 20500

Dear President Biden,

As new Members of Congress representing diverse districts across the United States, we look forward to working with you to ensure U.S. trade policy delivers for working people, helps to build a more resilient and fair economy, safeguards the environment, public health, and civil rights, and ensures independent farms, small businesses, and innovators can succeed.

As your administration implements important new industrial policies and begins negotiations on new trade policies, we respectfully urge you to work with us and our constituents in a transparent and inclusive manner.

From coast to coast, our constituents experience the downsides of past trade policies, which were shaped by and for the largest corporate interests. Some of the districts we represent suffer from job offshoring and unfair imports impacting local businesses and farms. Others are hurt by broken supply chains, created in part by shortages of vital goods because of economic concentration, fostered by low road trade agreements or from a lack of diverse and domestic production. The past model of globalization at any cost exacerbated the climate crisis and weakened our national security as we became over-reliant on imports of essential goods.

New trade frameworks, including the proposed Indo-Pacific Economic Partnership or Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity, must build on gains that Democrats achieved during the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiation. New pacts should improve on United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) labor standards, add effective environmental and climate standards, and include facility-specific enforcement of both. Any new pacts should only go into effect after our trade partners implement these obligations in their law and practice. The right rules and enforcement measures are key to ensuring any new agreements truly are worker-centered. We strongly support your focus on setting the rules of commerce rather than cutting the few remaining U.S. tariffs.

As the global digital economy grows, we also urge you to ensure U.S. digital trade policy prioritizes Congress’ role to regulate digital firms’ compliance with domestic labor, anti-trust and civil rights laws. Strong digital trade rules should ensure data privacy and security for workers and consumers, while discouraging outsourcing and preventing racial and other forms of discrimination. Digital trade rules should also support fair competition by encouraging diverse marketplaces, promoting cyber-security for small and medium sized businesses, and limiting unhealthy market concentration and anti-competitive behavior by existing large firms. Digital trade can bring real gains, but a balanced approach that ensures future domestic policy flexibility is integral to safeguarding the public interest.

Finally, we support your efforts to reshape our economy to counter the climate crisis and enhance our reliance and security. As you implement your industrial policy initiatives, we urge you to focus on building capacity at home, with strong Buy American and domestic content and assembly rules. This will both maximize U.S. resilience and create good jobs to build our economy from the bottom up and the middle out. We must update global and regional trade rules to reflect new climate and geopolitical realities, not allow outdated trade rules and obligations to undermine our wellbeing and security.

We are excited to work with you to continue the transformation of U.S. trade policies that you have begun.

Sincerely,

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