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[Congressional Record: February 26, 2003 (House)]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
AUTHORIZING PRESIDENT TO AGREE TO CERTAIN AMENDMENTS TO AGREEMENT
ESTABLISHING A BORDER ENVIRONMENT COOPERATION COMMISSION AND A NORTH
AMERICAN DEVELOPMENT BANK
Mrs. BIGGERT. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the
bill (H.R. 254) to authorize the President of the United States to
agree to certain amendments to the Agreement between the Government of
the United States of America and the Government of the United Mexican
States concerning the establishment of a Border Environment Cooperation
Commission and a North American Development Bank, and for other
[ ... ]
Ms. KAPTUR. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to this legislation with mixed
feelings, because the need for environmental remediation along the
border is extraordinary; and I wish to express my deepest respect for
my colleagues, the gentlewoman from Illinois (Mrs. Biggert), the
gentleman from Nebraska (Mr. Bereuter), the gentleman from Texas (Mr.
Gonzalez), the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Hinojosa), and those who have
worked to bring this matter to the floor.
I rise in opposition because I really do not believe this should come
to us under a suspension. I think that the issues concerning us all out
of NAFTA, and NADBank in particular, deserve the full engagement of
this Congress. And I think Members should pay attention to this
legislation that was brought up very quickly and out of a single
committee, a committee on which I do not serve, and this is my only way
of informing the membership of issues at stake relating to NADBank and
adjustment to NAFTA.
[ ... ]
So I would say to my colleagues who have absolutely wholesome and
extraordinarily important concerns here today in trying to extend
NAFTA's environmental provisions through NADBank to cover a larger
proportion of Mexico's to our border countries problems, look at the
fundamentals. I think the administration wants to piecemeal with this
suspension bill and find ways to try to fix an agreement that
fundamentally needs a broader look.
I would urge my colleagues to vote ``no'' on this suspension bill
today in order that we can have that broader debate. We need so many
adjustments in NADBank and NAFTA.
First, we need an agricultural adjustment provision. Part of the
illegal immigration coming into our country is because there are no
agricultural provisions under NAFTA, and NADBank is absolutely
unrealistic in the manner in which it deals with the exodus in the
Mexican countryside. NAFTA is a huge continental disaster for them.
Indeed, people's lives are being lost every day because we choose to
ignore their pain. Let us be voices for the most powerless people on
We need a continental labor registration system for agricultural
labor. It is wrong what happened to those 14 people in that truck in
Omaha dying because they were brought up here as bonded workers. We
need a continental solution to that travesty.
In terms of the environment, why should the taxpayers of our country
be asked to pay for the damage these corporations are doing? The
corporations involved in this border trade, they ought to pay, because
they are the ones creating the mess. We have done the very same kind of
program here in our own country to let those responsible pay for the
environmental damage that they are doing.
[ ... ]
Mr. FILNER. I thank the gentlewoman for yielding me this time.
Mr. Speaker, I do represent the entire California-Mexico border, so I
am a border Congressman; and I must say, we have some difficulties with
the proposed legislation. The gentlewoman from Ohio, and I am sorry
that it had to take someone from the hinterlands to explain to us that
this whole issue of NAFTA and NADBank need to be discussed by this body
in a far more important way than a bill on suspension that gives us 10
minutes to debate. The gentlewoman is entirely correct. And just
because it is only the NADBank that falls within the jurisdiction of
the Banking Committee is no reason to limit this House from a fuller
discussion. The Banking Committee can in fact go in with other
committees and have that discussion. The gentlewoman was absolutely
right: jobs have been lost, millions, because of NAFTA.
I live in San Diego, California, a community impacted by NAFTA. Did
the community adjustment investment fund or NADBank do anything for our
community? No. Is it going to do anything with the proposed reforms? I
do not know. But I am very wary.
[ ... ]
Those same maquiladoras brought Mexican workers to the border. What
did it pay them? No increase in wages. In fact, wages fell. And do you
know what happened when the folks who came to the Maquilas who thought
they were going to get high wages and did not? What happened? Illegal
immigration to America. Did NADBank do anything to help us with that?
Two power plants have just opened up in Mexicali, Mexico, to service
the needs of California, power needs. Did they have to follow the
environmental rules of our community? No. Can the border patrol stop
air pollution? No. Did NADBank help us solve any of that? No.
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