NAFTA Loses Support in Congress
For those keeping score, the House of Representatives in the 105th Congress
will contain more members who voted against the North American Free Trade
Agreement than those who voted for it.
Even though NAFTA passed by a margin of 234 to 200 in November 1993, retirements
and election losses have left 143 members who voted against NAFTA and, with
the defeat of Rep. Bob Dornan, the right-wing California Republican who
voted for NAFTA, 142 who voted for it.
"Members who voted against NAFTA are no longer the minority in the
House of Representatives," said Lori Wallach, Director of Public Citizen's
Global Trade Watch. "A sizeable majority of Americans oppose NAFTA
expansion despite a massive public relations campaign by its corporate supporters.
New members of Congress should carefully consider this powerful public opposition
to NAFTA expansion," Wallach said.
A poll released recently by the Bank of Boston shows that a majority (57%)
of Americans believe that the United States should not approve new trade
agreements with Latin America. "A higher percentage of Americans oppose
NAFTA expansion than voted for either Clinton or Dole for president,"
Wallach said. The poll found that 51% of Americans believe that free trade
pacts result in fewer U.S. jobs and 52% say their views toward free trade
are less favorable than one year ago.
Of the 143 members who voted for NAFTA, six are among the 91 returning cosponsors
of the NAFTA Accountability Act, which applies a "do no further harm"
test to NAFTA in order to ensure that conditions remain at least equal to
those prior to NAFTA's implementation.
If conditions are found to have deteriorated, NAFTA would be renegotiated
or its Congressional authorization would terminate. Further, the Act forbids
expansion of NAFTA until Congress received assurances that conditions have
not deteriorated under NAFTA.
The NAFTA Accountability Act will be reintroduced early next year.
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