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WAIS Document Retrieval

[Congressional Record: February 26, 2003 (House)]
[Page H1343-H1351]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []

                       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 this continent. 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? Nothing. 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.