JUNE 3, 2015

Customs bill, trade authority turn blind eye to Pacific human rights abuses

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FAIRFAX – Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning issued the following statement urging opposition to the separate customs bill and trade authority facing Congress that will allow human rights abusers to receive favorable economic treatment by the U.S. in international trade:

"Congress is looking to whitewash the horrors of mass graves and religious persecution in Trans-Pacific Partnership nations like Malaysia, Brunei, and Vietnam through passage of a separate customs bill which would allow human rights abusers to get the most favorable economic treatment from the U.S. available in the world. It is this exact kind of legislative maneuvering and chicanery that has caused universal disgust with Congress and Washington, D.C., where both parties engage in cynical deal making to avoid confronting real evil.

"The Senate unanimously indicated concern about religious freedom in an amendment to fast track legislation, and additionally there are provisions barring Malaysia, a slave trafficking regime, from participating in the trade agreement. The upcoming customs bill wipes out these provisions through a simple wave of Obama's pen certifying that the human rights abusers are trying to do better.

"We all know Obama will ignore any language directing him to enforce the trade agreement, proving trade authority will not worth the paper it is printed on. Even if trade authority says no Malaysia, he'll put Malaysia in. Amendments that have no real power over what Obama puts into the Trans-Pacific Partnership or who participates in it, provide political cover with no practical binding impact. If House members are truly concerned about the human rights atrocities of our trading partners they must reject fast tracking the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

"The time to amend the Trans-Pacific Partnership is after Obama submits it when Congress has the real power of two-thirds Senate ratification. Attempts to amend the trade deal through fast track depend upon Obama's good will. If there's one lesson Congress should have learned by now, it's that Obama doesn't care what they think.

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