Congressman Farr: Justifying Violence Through Trade


Below is Congressman Sam Farr's response to constituents who actively appose passage of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA.) They understand, in spite of Farr's claim, that this bill supports corporate interest not California jobs, safe food, and the environment. Furthermore, his position places him in clear opposition to international, human rights law by legitimizes the illegal expansion of Israeli settlements and the illegal occupation of Palestine and Syria, placing an intentional road block to Palestinian Civil Society's call to live dignified lives free from the US-Israeli Occupation through nonviolent tactics like Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS.)

Has this former champion for human rights, labor, and the environment, become enemy of the state, opening the door to GMOs, pesticides, job loss, and violation of international, human rights law in Palestine?

Congressman Farr:

  1. "TPA was a big vote, but one vote doesn't mean I have turned my back on who I represent."
  2. "I had a 95% AFL-CIO labor rating; this vote doesn't suddenly un-do my 40 years of supporting labor."
  3. "One vote doesn't turn me into a raving resource abuser."
  4. "One vote doesn't make me a pusher of pesticides and GMO."

We think he protests to loudly. ~ Cognitive Liberty


June 25, 2015

It isn't often when we can say we are living history as it is made. But in the past two weeks, history was made. Congress approved a path forward – a procedural mechanism – by which trade pacts must be written and approved. Known as Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) or more colloquially as 'fast track', this bill passed the House on June 12 on a 219-211 vote.

Since you have contacted me on this issue I wanted to get back to you and let you know that I voted 'yes' on this bill.

Accompanying the TPA, Congress also passed legislation, known as Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) that will provide benefits, if needed, to persons whose jobs might be negatively affected by trade. That legislation passed Congress June 25 by a vote of 286-138. I also voted 'yes' on this bill . [See Roll Call Vote #388 / evs/2015/roll388.xml ]

I received many calls and letters and emails from constituents against TPA; I received many calls and letters and emails from constituents in favor of TPA. In the end, after reading the legislation (HR 1314) and receiving input from labor unions, environmental groups, human rights activists, district businesses, the US Trade Representative and even the President himself, I determined that the best choice for the Central Coast was to vote yes.

America cannot withdraw from the global market, nor can our Central Coast economy. We are inextricably part of it. Indeed, our community boasts about it being the Language Capital of the World and the Salad Bowl of the World. We host not one but two internationally renowned language schools – the Defense Language Institute and the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (MIIS). We attract great numbers of foreign students to our globally connected universities and colleges. We are a world tourist destination. We are part of the world and the world is part of us.

This country, I believe, is big enough, strong enough, and compassionate enough to open our borders to change. We sit on the greatest economic engine in the world. We have the power to make positive change for us – and for others – and we should use that power to do so. Having this opportunity but doing nothing is failure.

The TPA – which is not a treaty, it is a parliamentary process – contains approximately 150 different significant criteria by which any treaty negotiated under the TPA must contain. This includes labor rights, human rights, environmental standards, copyright and patent protections especially where digital content and internet protocols are concerned, agriculture and other topics. The TPA also lays out an aggressive, assertive role for Congress to play in verifying that any proposed treaty meets those criteria. In addition, the TPA guarantees a full public vetting of any treaty negotiated under its provisions, including full access to the actual text by the U.S. public – you – and the world. There will be nothing secret about a treaty negotiated under TPA; it will be totally transparent by the time it gets voted on.

Given the global nature of our economy it makes sense to set parameters on how the country interacts in that economy. That kind of certainty is what gives business the confidence to invest in new facilities, new employees and new products. Without TPA trade and import/exports would still happen, but it would happen in a trade environment with a vaguer roadmap, less protection and lower standards. I believe that our trading partners value access to the U.S. market so much that they are willing to accommodate our demands for better labor conditions, stronger environmental standards and improved human rights to get them. That is the power of the U.S. marketplace and that is how the U.S. can bring its values to bear on the rest of the world.

Finally, I have to assure you that, rumors to the contrary, the TPA does not contain cuts to Medicare. In the beginning there was such a provision but another bill passed by a margin of 397-32 to remove it (see Roll Call Vote #345 o v/evs/2015/roll 3 45.xml ).

I realize not everyone agrees with my vote on TPA. But in all the negative calls I got, no one could identify for me any significant adverse impact on our region. I am convinced that our Number One job engine, agriculture, will not go belly-up because of TPA. It didn't after NAFTA and it won't after TPA. In the end, it's our Central Coast economy that was my main reason for supporting TPA: our local industry thought it would benefit them; maybe not by leaps and bounds, but by enough that they wanted to see it pass. I voted for the economic benefit of the region. This is what you sent me to Congress to do.

I have served the Central Coast in one elected capacity or another for 40 years. I have always kept the needs of the community paramount in my service. TPA was a big vote, but one vote doesn't mean I have turned my back on who I represent. On the day of this vote, I had a 95% AFL-CIO labor rating; this vote doesn't suddenly un-do my 40 years of supporting labor. I am a recipient of the Sierra Club Edgar Wayburn Award for outstanding environmental stewardship. One vote doesn't turn me into a raving resource abuser. I am a recognized champion of fresh, safe agriculture. One vote doesn't make me a pusher of pesticides and GMO.

I hear the disappointment coming from people who have called my office.

But I want everyone to know that I made this vote because I took the time and made the effort to get the facts right, to not just follow the crowd which would have been the easy vote. I will continue to fight for this community in the best way I know how and I want to continue hearing from you – good or bad – along the way.

I appreciate you reaching out to me on this issue and giving me your input. I hope this explanation of my 'yes' vote on TPA helps you to understand my position. In the coming months there will be an opportunity to vote on that actual treaty itself, the TPP. At that time I will comb through it to make sure it meets or exceeds the standards set in TPA before voting on it.

Thanks, again, for your input. I really do appreciate hearing from you.

Member of Congress

One thought on “Congressman Farr: Justifying Violence Through Trade”

  1. Thank you Sam, for your lengthy explanation and defense of your YES vote on TPA. However, it is my understanding that this Agreement contains a clause that forces the U.S. Administratioin to pressure U.S. trading partnersto o longer boycott products made in illegal Israeli Settlements or discourage their companies from supporting Israel’s illegal occupation. This goes against international law which states it is illegal to colonize occupied territories with its own settlers. It moves to codify in U.S. law that there is no distinction between Israel and its illegal Settlements in occupied territory. This is clearly a provision added by Israeli agents assisting the drafting of the TPA. Another sign of the Israeli tail wagging the U.S dog. Please check it out Sam. This is an egregious error that needs to be corrected.

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