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Sherrod Brown on Free Trade

Democratic Sr Senator; previously Representative (OH-13)

 


Trade agreements have sold out the middle class

When asked about voting for bipartisan foreign trade agreements, Brown said he takes "a back seat to no one when it comes to bipartisanship."

"These trade agreements clearly have sold out the middle class. Ten years ago, we had a $1 billion trade deficit with China on auto parts. Today it's $10 billion," he said. "Now we have a new steel mill in Youngstown, more steel jobs in Cleveland and in Lorain, and more aluminum jobs in Heath, Ohio, and Sidney, Ohio."

Mandel countered Brown's claim of bipartisanship. "I need to correct your first comment. You take a back seat to everyone when it comes to bipartisanship," he said. "Since Sherrod Brown's gone to Washington, our trade cap with China has grown 16 times greater. One out of every four kids living in Ohio is in poverty. That is a record of failure."

Source: Cleveland Jewish News on 2012 Ohio Senate debate , Oct 15, 2012

One of Senate's most ardent critics of foreign trade

Sherrod Brown is one of the Senate's most ardent critics of this country's foreign trade policies. He says he supports the ideal of free trade, but adds that poorly drafted trade agreements and weak enforcement of trade rules have let China and other foreign countries step all over American businesses and workers.

His backup? China's lax labor, safety and environmental standards. Its minuscule wages. Its currency manipulation. All of these make it harder for American companies with a domestic workforce to compete, Brown says, yet make China attractive to companies that want low-skilled hourly workers.

Trade is Brown's signature issue. He has voted against trade deal after trade deal--with South Korea, Panama, Colombia, Central America, Mexico and Canada and, most importantly here, China. But Brown's Republican opponent, Josh Mandel, said in a news release, "Make no mistake--Sherrod Brown is one of the main D.C. politicians responsible for Ohio jobs moving to China."

Source: PolitiFact.com 2012 Senate FactCheck , Mar 20, 2012

Supports fair trade; opposes exporting jobs

Q: Would you repeal NAFTA?

BROWN: I would renegotiate NAFTA, as I would renegotiate PNTR with China. We’ve lost so many small businesses, as these big companies outsource. And Mike DeWine has supported every time these trade agreements that give incentives to the big corporations.

DeWINE: When steel companies were dumping steel, we got tariffs. When a foreign country dumps into the US, we give the fine to the US companies. When it comes time to protect Ohio industries, he’s not there.

BROWN All of us were involved in [the steel issue]. The problem is, those tariffs to protect the steel industry, they didn’t last very long. Neither of those laws that he talks about are still in effect. But I want to see more trade. I just don’t want one-way free trade where our biggest export is jobs to Mexico & China. I want fair trade, with more exports, not this free trade that causes the kind of job loss that we’re seeing. We simply have abandoned the middle class when we passed these trade agreements.

Source: 2006 Ohio Senate Debate on NBC Meet the Press , Oct 1, 2006

Fight against unfair trade agreements

During Congressman Sherrod Brown’s 13 years in the United States House of Representatives, he has championed issues important to Ohioans. Congressman Brown has led the fight against unfair trade agreements that promote outsourcing and hinder job growth in Ohio. He has worked to improve access to health care, to strengthen federal health research institutions, and to negotiate fair prices for prescription drugs.
Source: 2006 Senate campaign website, www.sherrodbrown.com , Jan 26, 2006

Voted NO 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:

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 implementing CAFTA, Central America Free Trade.

To implement the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement. A vote of YES would:
Reference: CAFTA Implementation Bill; Bill HR 3045 ; vote number 2005-443 on Jul 28, 2005

Voted NO on implementing US-Australia Free Trade Agreement.

United States-Australia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act: implementing free trade with protections for the domestic textile and apparel industries.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Rep Tom DeLay [R, TX-22]; Bill H.R.4759 ; vote number 2004-375 on Jul 14, 2004

Voted NO on implementing US-Singapore free trade agreement.

Vote to pass a bill that would put into effect a trade agreement between the United States and Singapore. The trade agreement would reduce tariffs and trade barriers between the United States 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; Bill HR 2739 ; vote number 2003-432 on Jul 24, 2003

Voted NO on implementing free trade agreement with Chile.

United States-Chile Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act: 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: Bill sponsored by DeLay, R-TX; Bill HR 2738 ; vote number 2003-436 on Jul 24, 2003

Voted YES on withdrawing from the WTO.

Vote on withdrawing Congressional approval from the agreement establishing the World Trade Organization [WTO].
Reference: Resolution sponsored by Paul, R-TX; Bill H J Res 90 ; vote number 2000-310 on Jun 21, 2000

Voted NO on 'Fast Track' authority for trade agreements.

Vote to establish negotiating objectives for trade agreements between the United States and foreign countries and renew 'fast track' authority for the President.
Reference: Bill introduced by Archer, R-TX.; Bill HR 2621 ; vote number 1998-466 on Sep 25, 1998

Rated 44% by CATO, indicating a mixed record on trade issues.

Brown scores 44% 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.

Brown 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

Tariffs against countries undervaluing their currency.

Brown signed H.R.2378 & S.1027

    Amends the Tariff Act of 1930 to require the administering authority to determine, based on certain requirements, whether the exchange rate of the currency of an exporting country is undervalued or overvalued (misaligned) against the U.S. dollar for an 18-month period; and to take certain actions under a countervailing duty or antidumping duty proceeding to offset such misalignment in cases of an affirmative determination. Congress makes the following findings:
  1. The strength, vitality, and stability of the US economy and the openness and effectiveness of the global trading system are critically dependent upon an international monetary regime of orderly and flexible exchange rates.
  2. Increasingly in recent years, a number of foreign governments have undervalued their currencies by means of protracted, large-scale intervention in foreign exchange markets, and this fundamental misalignment has substantially contributed to distortions in trade flows.
  3. This exchange depreciation serves as a subsidy for, and facilitates dumping of, exports from countries that engage in this mercantilist practice.
  4. It is consistent with the agreements of the World Trade Organization and the International Monetary Fund that US trade law make explicit that fundamental undervaluation by an exporting country of its currency is actionable as a countervailable export subsidy and alternatively can be offset by antidumping duties.
Source: Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act 09-HR2378 on May 13, 2009

Sponsored bill to review free trade agreements biennially.

Brown sponsored H.R.3012

    Trade Reform, Accountability, Development, and Employment Act or the TRADE Act:
  1. review biennially certain free trade agreements (including Uruguay Round Agreements) between the US and foreign countries to evaluate their economic, environmental, national security, health, safety, and other effects; and
  2. report on them to the Congressional Trade Agreement Review Committee (established by this Act), including analyses of specified aspects of each agreement and certain information about agreement parties, such as whether the country has a democratic form of government, respects certain core labor rights and fundamental human rights, protects intellectual property rights, and enforces environmental laws.
    Declares that implementing bills of new trade agreements shall not be subject to expedited consideration or special procedures limiting amendment, unless such agreements include certain standards with respect to:
  1. labor;
  2. human rights;
  3. environment and public safety;
  4. food and product health and safety;
  5. provision of services;
  6. investment;
  7. procurement;
  8. intellectual property;
  9. agriculture;
  10. trade remedies and safeguards;
  11. dispute resolution and enforcement;
  12. technical assistance;
  13. national security; and
  14. taxation.
Requires the President to submit to Congress a plan for the renegotiation of existing trade agreements to bring them into compliance with such standards. Expresses the sense of Congress that certain processes for U.S. trade negotiations should be followed when Congress considers legislation providing special procedures for implementing bills of trade agreements.
Source: TRADE Act 09-HR3012 on Jun 24, 2009

Sponsored bill imposing tariffs for manipulating currency.

Brown sponsored Currency Reform for Fair Trade Act

[Explanatory note from Wikipedia.com "Exchange Rate"]:

Between 1994 and 2005, the Chinese yuan renminbi was pegged to the US dollar at RMB 8.28 to $1. Countries may gain an advantage in international trade if they manipulate the value of their currency by artificially keeping its value low. It is argued that China has succeeded in doing this over a long period of time. However, a 2005 appreciation of the Yuan by 22% was followed by a 39% increase in Chinese imports to the US. In 2010, other nations, including Japan & Brazil, attempted to devalue their currency in the hopes of subsidizing cheap exports and bolstering their ailing economies. A low exchange rate lowers the price of a country's goods for consumers in other countries but raises the price of imported goods for consumers in the manipulating country.

Source: HR.639&S.328 11-S0328 on Feb 14, 2011

Declare Turkish rebar subject to anti-dumping duties.

Brown signed declaring Turkish rebar subject to anti-dumping duties

Excerpts from Letter from 31 Senators to the Secretary of Commerce: We write to you regarding countervailing duty and antidumping investigations being conducted by the Department of Commerce on imports of steel reinforcing bar (rebar) from Turkey and Mexico.

Rebar is one of the largest volume steel products produced in the US, employing more than 10,000 workers in over 30 states. With nearly 7 million tons of domestic production, a healthy rebar industry is critical to a strong economy. However, it is our understanding that imports from Turkey and Mexico are surging into the US, nearly doubling from 2011 to 2013.

The ITC recently found that Mexican and Turkish rebar producers are consistently underselling US producers, resulting in substantial lost sales and depressed; [plus] a preliminary finding that the Government of Turkey bestows energy subsidies to its rebar industry, but that such subsidies are only de minimis in value. This seems surprising given the inherently energy-intensive nature of steel production.

Opposing argument: (Heritage Foundation, "Guide to Antidumping Laws", July 21, 1992) One of the pillars of the "fair trade" approach is a set of so-called antidumping and countervailing duty laws. Antidumping laws seek to prevent products manufactured overseas from being sold by foreign firms in the U.S. at "less than fair value." Countervailing duties seek to offset subsidies provided by foreign governments by imposing duties at the U.S. border.

The antidumping laws are confusing and arbitrary, and in many instances merely allow American firms to secure punitive tariffs against competing importers where no unfair trade practices are involved. Worse, these laws drive up the costs of imported components used by other American enterprises, making their products less competitive in world markets. As a result, American consumers pay higher prices for both imported and domestically produced goods.

Source: Turkish Rebar Letter 14LTR-BAR on Apr 9, 2014

Fight Chinese predatory trade practices on car tires.

Brown signed fighting Chinese predatory trade practices on car tires

Excerpts from Letter from 31 Senators to the Secretary of Commerce: We are writing in strong support of the Department's decision to initiate antidumping and countervailing duty investigations of passenger vehicle and light truck tires from China.

China has targeted the tire sector for development and there are several hundred tire manufacturing facilities now operating in that country. In 2009, the United Steelworkers (USW) sought relief from a flood of similar tires from China that were injuring our producers and their workers.

Unfortunately, shortly after relief expired in 2012, imports of these tires from China once again skyrocketed. In June 2014, the USW alleged dumping and subsidies, identifying dumping margins as high as 87%. Our laws need to be fairly and faithfully enforced to ensure that workers can be confident that, when they work hard and play by the rules, their government will stand by their side to fight foreign predatory trade practices.

America's laws against unfair trade are a critical underpinning of our economic policies and economic prosperity. Given the chance, American workers can out-compete anyone. But, in the face of China's continual targeting of our manufacturing base, we need to enforce our laws.

Opposing argument: (Cato Institute, "Burning Rubber", Sept. 11, 2009) USW and the unions feel that they have earned the president's support. The president is presumed to owe Big Labor for his election last November. Will the president do what is overwhelmingly in the best interest of the country? Or will he do what he thinks is best for himself politically? The president should reject the recommendations of the USITC and deny import restrictions altogether. A decision to reject trade restraints in the tires case would be reassuring to a world that is struggling to grow out of recession. The costs of any protectionism under these circumstances could unleash a protectionist backlash in the US an

Source: Car Tire Letter 14LTR-USW on Sep 16, 2014

Voted FOR reauthorizing Ex-Im Bank.

Brown 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.

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.

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: Supreme Court case 15-S0995 argued on Oct 19, 2015

Rated 50% by the USAE, indicating a mixed record on trade.

Brown scores 50% by USA*Engage on trade issues

Ratings by USA*Engage indicate support for trade engagement or trade sanctions. The organization's self-description: "USA*Engage is concerned about the proliferation of unilateral foreign policy sanctions at the federal, state and local level. Despite the fact that broad trade-based unilateral sanctions rarely achieve our foreign policy goals, they continue to have political appeal. Unilateral sanctions give the impression that the United States is 'doing something,' while American workers, farmers and businesses absorb the costs."

VoteMatch scoring for the USA*Engage ratings is as follows :

Source: USA*Engage 2011-2012 ratings on Congress and politicians 2012-USAE on Dec 31, 2012

No MFN for China; condition trade on human rights.

Brown adopted the Progressive Caucus Position Paper:

The Progressive Caucus opposes awarding China permanent Most Favored Nation trading status at this time. We believe that it would be a serious setback for the protection and expansion of worker rights, human rights and religious rights. We also believe it will harm the US economy. We favor continuing to review on an annual basis China’s trading status, and we believe it is both legal and consistent with US WTO obligations to do so. The Progressive Caucus believes that trade relations with the US should be conditioned on the protection of worker rights, human rights and religious rights. If Congress gives China permanent MFN status, the US will lose the best leverage we have to influence China to enact those rights and protections. At the current time, the US buys about 40% of China’s exports, making it a consumer with a lot of potential clout. So long as the US annually continues to review China’s trade status, we have the ability to debate achievement of basic worker and human rights and to condition access to the US market on the achievement of gains in worker and human rights, if necessary. But once China is given permanent MFN, it permanently receives unconditional access to the US market and we lose that leverage. China will be free to attract multinational capital on the promise of super low wages, unsafe workplace conditions and prison labor and permanent access to the US market.

Furthermore, giving China permanent MFN will be harmful to the US economy, since the record trade deficit with China (and attendant problems such as loss of US jobs, and lower average wages in the US) will worsen. For 1999, the trade deficit is likely to be nearly $70 billion. Once China is awarded permanent MFN and WTO membership, the trade deficit will worsen.

Source: CPC Position Paper: Trade With China 99-CPC1 on Nov 11, 1999

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