Arlen Specter on Free Trade
Republican Sr Senator (PA)
Voted YES on promoting free trade with Peru.
Approves the Agreement entered into with the government of Peru. Provides for the Agreement's entry into force upon certain conditions being met on or after January 1, 2008. Prescribes requirements for:
- enforcement of textile and apparel rules of origin;
- certain textile and apparel safeguard measures; and
- enforcement of export laws governing trade of timber products from Peru.
Proponents support voting YES because:
Rep. RANGEL: It's absolutely ridiculous to believe that we can create jobs without trade. I had the opportunity to travel to Peru recently. I saw firsthand how important this agreement is to Peru and how this agreement will strengthen an important ally of ours in that region. Peru is resisting the efforts of Venezuela's authoritarian President Hugo Chavez to wage a war of words and ideas in Latin America against the US. Congress should acknowledge the support of the people of Peru and pass this legislation by a strong margin.
Opponents recommend voting NO because:
Rep. WU: I regret that I cannot vote for this bill tonight because it does not put human rights on an equal footing with environmental and labor protections.
Rep. KILDEE: All trade agreements suffer from the same fundamental flaw: They are not self-enforcing. Trade agreements depend upon vigorous enforcement, which requires official complaints be made when violations occur. I have no faith in President Bush to show any enthusiasm to enforce this agreement. Congress should not hand this administration yet another trade agreement because past agreements have been more efficient at exporting jobs than goods and services. I appeal to all Members of Congress to vote NO on this. But I appeal especially to my fellow Democrats not to turn their backs on those American workers who suffer from the export of their jobs. They want a paycheck, not an unemployment check.
Reference: Peru Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act;
Bill H.R. 3688
; vote number 2007-413
on Dec 4, 2007
Voted YES on free trade agreement with Oman.
Vote on final passage of a bill to implement the United States-Oman Free Trade Agreement.
Opponents of the bill say to vote NAY because:
- International trade can confer tremendous benefits on all of its participants. Unfortunately, the Oman Free Trade Agreement fails to live up to that potential.
- In 2001, the US entered into a similar trade agreement with the country of Jordan. The agreement was heralded for its progressive labor standards. However, we have recently seen in Jordan instances of foreign workers forced into slave labor, stripped of their passports, denied their wages, and compelled to work for days without rest.
- These incidents have been occurring in Jordan because Jordanian labor laws preclude protections for foreign workers. My fear in Oman is that they have far weaker labor standards, and that would lend itself to even worse conditions than in Jordan.
- When our trade partners are held to different, less stringent standards, no one is better off.
When Omani firms can employ workers in substandard conditions, the Omani workers and American workers both lose. The playing field is not level.
Proponents of the bill say to vote YEA because:
Reference: United States-Oman Free Trade Agreement;
Bill S. 3569
; vote number 2006-190
on Jun 29, 2006
- The Oman Free Trade Agreement sends a very important message that the US strongly supports the economic development of moderate Middle Eastern nations. This is a vital message in the global war on terrorism.
- Since the end of WWII, the US has accepted nonreciprocal trade concessions in order to further important Cold War and post-Cold War foreign policy objectives. Examples include offering Japan and Europe nonreciprocal access to American markets during the 1950s in order to strengthen the economies of our allies and prevent the spread of communism.
- Oman is quickly running out of oil and, as a result, has launched a series of measures to reform its economy. This free-trade agreement immediately removes Oman's uniform 5% tariff on US goods.
Voted NO on implementing CAFTA for Central America free-trade.
Approves the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States-Free Trade Agreement entered into on August 5, 2005, with the governments of Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua (CAFTA-DR), and the statement of administrative action proposed to implement the Agreement. Voting YES would:
Reference: Central America Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act;
Bill HR 3045
; vote number 2005-209
on Jul 28, 2005
- Progressively eliminate customs duties on all originating goods traded among the participating nations
- Preserve US duties on imports of sugar goods over a certain quota
- Remove duties on textile and apparel goods traded among participating nations
- Prohibit export subsidies for agricultural goods traded among participating nations
- Provide for cooperation among participating nations on customs laws and import licensing procedures
- Recommend that each participating nation uphold the Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work
- Urge each participating nation to obey various international agreements regarding intellectual property rights
Voted NO on establishing free trade between US & Singapore.
Vote to pass a bill that would put into effect a trade agreement between the US and Singapore. The trade agreement would reduce tariffs and trade barriers between the US and Singapore. The agreement would remove tariffs on goods and duties on textiles, and open markets for services The agreement would also establish intellectual property, environmental and labor standards.
Reference: US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act;
Bill S.1417/HR 2739
; vote number 2003-318
on Jul 31, 2003
Voted YES on establishing free trade between the US and Chile.
Vote to pass a bill that would put into effect a trade agreement between the US and Chile. The agreement would reduce tariffs and trade barriers between the US and Chile. The trade pact would decrease duties and tariffs on agricultural and textile products. It would also open markets for services. The trade pact would establish intellectual property safeguards and would call for enforcement of environmental and labor standards.
Reference: US-Chile Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act;
Bill S.1416/HR 2738
; vote number 2003-319
on Jul 31, 2003
Voted YES on extending free trade to Andean nations.
HR3009 Fast Track Trade Authority bill: To extend the Andean Trade Preference Act, to grant additional trade benefits under that Act, and for other purposes. Vote to pass a bill that would enlarge duty-free status to particular products from Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, and Ecuador, renew the president's fast-track authority and reauthorize and increase a program to make accessible retraining and relocation assistance to U.S. workers hurt by trade agreements. It would also approve a five-year extension of Generalized System of Preferences and produce a refundable 70 percent tax credit for health insurance costs for displaced workers.
; vote number 2002-130
on May 23, 2002
Voted YES on granting normal trade relations status to Vietnam.
Vote to grant annual normal trade relations status to Vietnam. The resolution would allow Vietnamese imports to receive the same tariffs as those of other U.S. trading partners.
; vote number 2001-291
on Oct 3, 2001
Voted NO on removing common goods from national security export rules.
Vote to provide the president the authority to control the export of sensitive dual-use items for national security purposes. The bill would eliminate restrictions on the export of technology that is readily available in foreign markets.
; vote number 2001-275
on Sep 6, 2001
Voted NO on permanent normal trade relations with China.
Vote to give permanent Normal Trade Relations [NTR] status to China. Currently, NTR status for China is debated and voted on annually.
; vote number 2000-251
on Sep 19, 2000
Voted YES on expanding trade to the third world.
Vote to expand trade with more than 70 countries in Africa, Central America and the Caribbean. The countries would be required to meet certain eligibility requirements in protecting freedoms of expression and associatio
; vote number 2000-98
on May 11, 2000
Voted NO on renewing 'fast track' presidential trade authority.
Vote to proceed to the bill which establishes negotiating objectives for trade agreements, and renews 'fast track' trade authority for the President, which allows Congress to adopt or to reject a proposed trade agreement, but not to amend it.
Bill S 1269
; vote number 1997-294
on Nov 5, 1997
Promote the Andean Free Trade Agreement.
Specter adopted the Republican Main Street Partnership agenda item:
After a month of debate the Senate passed a The Andean Free Trade Agreement (H.R. 3009) including language to grant the president trade promotion authority. With the unanimous support of all eight Republican Main Street Partnership Senators, H.R. 3009 passed 66 to 30. Included in the legislation is an expansion of Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) providing a tax credit for 70% of the cost of health insurance purchased individually after losing employment as a result of a trade agreement.
While the Senate maintained its pro-trade reputation by defeating amendments by Senator Kerry (MA) and Senator Byrd (WV) diluting Trade Promotion Authority, one amendment strongly opposed by Main Street remains in the bill. An amendment offered by Senator Dayton (MN) and Senator Craig (ID) would allow the Senate to remove from fast-track consideration any provision of an agreement that would limit US trade remedy laws. Main Street firmly believes that this negates Trade Promotion Authority entirely, and supports President Bush's veto threat should this language remain intact after a House/Senate conference.
Source: Republican Main Street Partnership Legislative Agenda 02-RMSP1 on May 24, 2002
Rated 75% by CATO, indicating a pro-free trade voting record.
Specter scores 75% by CATO on senior issues
The mission of the Cato Institute Center for Trade Policy Studies is to increase public understanding of the benefits of free trade and the costs of protectionism.
The Cato Trade Center focuses not only on U.S. protectionism, but also on trade barriers around the world. Cato scholars examine how the negotiation of multilateral, regional, and bilateral trade agreements can reduce trade barriers and provide institutional support for open markets. Not all trade agreements, however, lead to genuine liberalization. In this regard, Trade Center studies scrutinize whether purportedly market-opening accords actually seek to dictate marketplace results, or increase bureaucratic interference in the economy as a condition of market access.
Studies by Cato Trade Center scholars show that the United States is most effective in encouraging open markets abroad when it leads by example.
The relative openness and consequent strength of the U.S. economy already lend powerful support to the worldwide trend toward embracing open markets. Consistent adherence by the United States to free trade principles would give this trend even greater momentum. Thus, Cato scholars have found that unilateral liberalization supports rather than undermines productive trade negotiations.
Scholars at the Cato Trade Center aim at nothing less than changing the terms of the trade policy debate: away from the current mercantilist preoccupation with trade balances, and toward a recognition that open markets are their own reward.
The following ratings are based on the votes the organization considered most important; the numbers reflect the percentage of time the representative voted the organization's preferred position.
Source: CATO website 02n-CATO on Dec 31, 2002
Extend trade restrictions on Burma to promote democracy.
Specter co-sponsored extending trade restrictions on Burma to promote democracy
A joint resolution approving the renewal of import restrictions contained in the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003. The original act sanctioned the ruling military junta, and recognized the National League of Democracy as the legitimate representative of the Burmese people.
Legislative Outcome: Related bills: H.J.RES.44, H.J.RES.93, S.J.RES.41; became Public Law 110-52.
Source: S.J.RES.16 07-SJR16 on Jun 14, 2007
Tariffs against countries undervaluing their currency.
Specter signed H.R.2378 & S.1027
Amends the Tariff Act of 1930 to require the administering authority to determine, based on certain requirements, whether the exchange rate of the currency of an exporting country is undervalued or overvalued (misaligned) against the U.S. dollar for an 18-month period; and to take certain actions under a countervailing duty or antidumping duty proceeding to offset such misalignment in cases of an affirmative determination. Congress makes the following findings:
Source: Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act 09-HR2378 on May 13, 2009
- The strength, vitality, and stability of the US economy and the openness and effectiveness of the global trading system are critically dependent upon an international monetary regime of orderly and flexible exchange rates.
Increasingly in recent years, a number of foreign governments have undervalued their currencies by means of protracted, large-scale intervention in foreign exchange markets, and this fundamental misalignment has substantially contributed to distortions in trade flows.
- This exchange depreciation serves as a subsidy for, and facilitates dumping of, exports from countries that engage in this mercantilist practice.
- It is consistent with the agreements of the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund that US trade law make explicit that fundamental undervaluation by an exporting country of its currency is actionable as a countervailable export subsidy and alternatively can be offset by antidumping duties.
Review free trade agreements biennially for rights violation.
Specter signed H.R.3012
Trade Reform, Accountability, Development, and Employment Act or the TRADE Act:
- review biennially certain free trade agreements (including Uruguay Round Agreements) between the US and foreign countries to evaluate their economic, environmental, national security, health, safety, and other effects; and
- report on them to the Congressional Trade Agreement Review Committee (established by this Act), including analyses of specified aspects of each agreement and certain information about agreement parties, such as whether the country has a democratic form of government, respects certain core labor rights and fundamental human rights, protects intellectual property rights, and enforces environmental laws.
Declares that implementing bills of new trade agreements shall not be subject to expedited consideration or special procedures limiting amendment, unless such agreements include certain standards with respect to: Requires the President to submit to Congress a plan for the renegotiation of existing trade agreements to bring them into compliance with such standards. Expresses the sense of Congress that certain processes for U.S. trade negotiations should be followed when Congress considers legislation providing special procedures for implementing bills of trade agreements.
Source: TRADE Act 09-HR3012 on Jun 24, 2009
- human rights;
- environment and public safety;
- food and product health and safety;
- provision of services;
- intellectual property;
- trade remedies and safeguards;
- dispute resolution and enforcement;
- technical assistance;
- national security; and
Page last updated: Oct 28, 2010