Neal, Wyden Statement on Biden Administration's Go-It-Alone Trade Action
Washington, D.C., March 28, 2023
Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Richard E. Neal (D-MA) and Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) released the following statement after the Biden Administration’s announcement of the United States - Japan Critical Minerals Agreement:
“The Inflation Reduction Act is already transforming our economy, with nearly 100 green energy projects underway and over 100,000 clean jobs created in the last six months, but the critical minerals agreement announced today is unacceptable. Without enforceable environmental or labor protections, the Administration abandons worker-centric trade policy and jeopardizes our climate work by opening the door for another environmental catastrophe. Mining is a challenging business, with ongoing violations of workers’ rights, child labor, forced labor, environmental degradation, and toxic chemical exposure all present in the industry. Even among allies, the United States should only enter into agreements that account for the realities of an industry, learn from past agreements, and raise standards. And agreements should be developed transparently and made available to the public for meaningful review well before signing – not after the ink is already dry.
“It’s clear this agreement is one of convenience. As we warned Ambassador Tai last week, the Administration does not have the authority to unilaterally enter into free trade agreements. Human rights, environmental rights, and economic opportunity are all closely interwoven, and had the Administration wanted to include meaningful labor or environmental protections in this agreement, they would’ve engaged Congress. USMCA is a prime example of what’s possible when the Executive and Congress collaborate, and its enforcement mechanisms should be the floor for future agreements. Working with Congress is the only way to develop enforceable and long-lasting trade agreements, and as the Democratic leaders on trade, we stand ready to deliver.”