Richard Durbin on Free Trade
Democratic Sr Senator (IL)
Vigorous enforcement against unfair importation & dumping
I support free and fair trade agreements that benefit all parties involved. I also support vigorous enforcement of our domestic trade laws that would limit illegal and unfair importation of commodities like agricultural products and steel from countries
that dump those products on US shores. I have insisted that so-called Fast Track authority be subject to meaningful protections of workers’ rights and the environment.
Source: 2008 Senate campaign website, www.dickdurbin.com, “Issues”
, Mar 2, 2008
Supports NAFTA, GATT, and WTO
Q: Do you support NAFTA?
Q: Do you support GATT?
Q: Do you support continued US membership in the WTO?
Q: Do you support China becoming a member of the WTO?
Q: Should a nation’s human rights record affect
its normal trade relations with the US?
Durbin adds, “Human rights should be one of several factors considered. Fast-track authority should take into consideration labor & environmental concerns. I support sales of food and medicine to Cuba.”
Source: Congressional 2002 National Political Awareness Test
, Nov 1, 2002
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 NO 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 YES 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 NO 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 YES 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 YES 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
Rated 17% by CATO, indicating a pro-fair trade voting record.
Durbin scores 17% 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.
Durbin 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
Ban Argentine meat imports to avoid foot & mouth disease.
Durbin co-sponsored banning Argentine meat imports to avoid foot & mouth disease
To prohibit the importation of ruminants and swine, and fresh and frozen meat and products of ruminants and swine, from Argentina until the Secretary of Agriculture certifies to Congress that every region of Argentina is free of foot and mouth disease without vaccination. This Act may be cited as the 'Foot and Mouth Disease Prevention Act of 2008'.
Source: Foot and Mouth Disease Prevention Act (S.3238) 08-S3238 on Jul 10, 2008
Sponsored sugar quotas & import tariffs to stabilize prices.
Durbin co-sponsored Sugar Reform Act
Congressional Summary:Sugar Reform Act:
- Requires that sugar allotments be appropriate to maintain adequate supplies at reasonable prices, taking into account all domestic supply sources, including imports.
- Revises sugar tariff-rate quota adjustment provisions so that the ratio of sugar stocks to total sugar use at the end of the quota year will be approximately 15.5%
- Extends flexible marketing sugar allotment authority through crop year 2017
- Repeals the feedstock flexibility program for bioenergy producers.
Proponent's argument for bill:(Senators' opinions reported on politico.com) "We subsidize a handful of wealthy sugar growers at the expense of everybody in America," said Sen. Patrick Toomey (R-Pa.), whose home state boasts the chocolate giant, Hershey's. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), warned her colleagues against unraveling the commodity coalition behind the farm bill: "We forget that this is much bigger than a sugar program.
It's much bigger than any one single commodity. When you single out one commodity, you threaten the effectiveness of the overall farm bill."
Opponent's argument against bill:(Food and Business News, May 2013): Users claim the sugar program nearly doubles the price of sugar to US consumers and has resulted in lost jobs as some candy manufacturers have moved operations to other countries. Producers claim the program has resulted in more stable sugar supplies, provides a safety net for growers and that world prices are often lower because of subsidies in origin countries, which would put US growers at a disadvantage should import restrictions be lifted. Producers also note that US sugar prices have declined more than 50% from late 2011 highs. They also maintain that jobs have been lost or moved out of the US for reasons other than sugar prices, mainly labor and health care costs, noting that candy makers' profits have been strong in recent years.
Source: S.345/ H.R.693 13-S345 on Feb 14, 2013
Voted FOR reauthorizing Ex-Im Bank.
Durbin voted NAY Export-Import Bank Reform and Reauthorization Act
Heritage Action summary of vote# S206: The Senate voted to table (kill) an amendment by Sen. Kirk to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank. Sen. Kirk recommends voting NO. Heritage Foundation recommends voting YES because the "Ex-Im Bank is little more than a $140 billion slush fund for corporate welfare."
OnTheIssues explanation: Voting NO would allow a vote on reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank. Voting YES would kill the bill for reauthorizing the Ex-Im Bank.
Congressional Summary from previous Ex-Im bill S.824; the Ex-Im Bank shall:Sierra Club reason for conditionally voting NO (from previous bill S.819):Sen. Shaheen's bill S.824
reauthorizes the Ex-Im Bank without undermining Obama's Climate Action Plan. The Sierra Club supports the bill because it makes both financial and environmental sense for the US and all of its taxpayer-backed financial institutions--including Ex-Im--to stop investing in dirty and dangerous fossil fuels like coal.
- Provide technical assistance to small businesses on how to apply for financial assistance;
- Establish programs under which private financial institutions may share risk in loans & guarantees.
- The Bank may enter into up to $25 billion worth of contracts of reinsurance or co-finance.
Cato Institute reason for voting YES to kill the bill:The Ex-Im Bank's reauthorization buffs contend that Ex-Im fills a void left by private sector lenders unwilling to provide financing for certain transactions. Ex-Im's critics [say that] by effectively superseding risk-based decision-making with the choices of a handful of bureaucrats pursuing political objectives, Ex-Im risks taxpayer dollars. It turns out that for nearly every Ex-Im financing authorization that might advance the fortunes of a single US company, there is at least one US industry whose firms are put at a competitive disadvantage. These are the unseen consequences of Ex-Im's mission.
Source: Congressional vote 15-S0995 on Oct 19, 2015
$25B more loans from Export-Import Bank.
Durbin co-sponsored H.R.1031 & S.824
This bill raises the cap on outstanding loans, guarantees, and insurance of the Export-Import Bank of the United States for FY2015-FY2022 and afterwards. The Bank shall:
- Provide technical assistance to small businesses on how to apply for financial assistance from the Bank;
- Establish programs under which private financial institutions may share risk in the loans, guarantees, and other Bank products in exchange for receiving fees received from program participants.
- The Bank may enter into up to $25 billion worth of contracts of reinsurance, co-finance, or other risk-sharing arrangements on its portfolio or individual transactions with insurance companies, financial institutions, or export credit agencies.
Opponents reasons for voting NAY: (Washington Examiner, 12/2/12): The Export-Import Bank is a taxpayer-backed agency that finances U.S. exports, primarily though loan guarantees. You'd think the bank would spread the money around to
nurture up-and-coming businesses. You'd be wrong, very wrong. In fact, 83% of its taxpayer-backed loan guarantees in 2012 went to just one exporter: Boeing. Welcome to the "New Economic Patriotism," where the big get bigger and taxpayers bear the risk. Ex-Im is at the heart of Obama's National Export Initiative and is a pillar of the economic patriotism that Obama pledged in a second term. When government hands out more money, the guys with the best lobbyists and the closest ties to power will disproportionately get their hands on that money. Obama has spent four years pushing more subsidies, more bailouts and more regulations. "New Economic Patriotism" basically amounts to a national industrial policy -- Washington championing certain major domestic companies and industries, as if the global economy were an Olympic competition.
Source: Promoting U.S. Jobs Through Exports Act 15-S824 on Mar 19, 2015
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Page last updated: Oct 26, 2020