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San Diego Congressman Vargas, Civic Leaders Speak Out Against Trade Proposal

Rep. Juan Vargas (D-San Diego), along with civic and religious leaders, speaks out against "fast track" trade legislation, Feb. 23, 2015.
Susan Murphy
Rep. Juan Vargas (D-San Diego), along with civic and religious leaders, speaks out against "fast track" trade legislation, Feb. 23, 2015.

San Diego Congressman Vargas, Civic Leaders Speak Out Against Trade Proposal
Rep. Juan Vargas (D-San Diego) and a dozen civic and religious leaders rallied Monday against President Barack Obama’s request to Congress for “fast track” trade authority.

Rep. Juan Vargas (D-San Diego) and a dozen civic and religious leaders rallied Monday against President Barack Obama’s request to Congress for Trade Promotion Authority, also known as “fast track.”

The proposed fast-track legislation would restrict Congress to a yes or no vote on trade deals without the opportunity to amend or delay. The measure could be key in sealing the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership that comprises 40 percent of the global economy.

Vargas argued fast-track allows the president to negotiate deals without transparency.

“So we actually don’t know what are in these trade deals, and we don’t get to know until he brings it to Congress,” Vargas said. “And then when he brings it to Congress there’s only a very short period of time to take a look at it, but you can’t amend it, you can’t change it.”

Vargas said the measure would ship jobs overseas and hurt workers' rights.

“We’ve seen what’s happened under NAFTA with a lot of these people that are basically enslaved on these agricultural farms," Vargas said.

Andrea Guerrero, executive director of Alliance San Diego, said fast-track trade agreements have had a devastating impact on immigration in San Diego.

“When we allow these trade agreements to take effect without any consideration of the local economy in the countries where U.S. Corporations are flooding the market, we start to then see a displacement of local workers," Guerrero said.

Supporters of the measure, including some congressional Republicans, said the deal would lift exports and help create more valuable jobs.

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