Corzine Amendment Final Vote

It's incredible!!! Senator Corzine's amendment to protect significant public services almost passed the Senate! We lost by just two votes. The vote to table the amendment was 49-47.

This will send a very strong message to the House when they vote on the conference report. When you call/meet with your Representatives during the Memorial Day recess be sure to tell them how concerned the Senate is about this.

As far as I know, this is the first time the Senate has had any debate about services in relation to trade agreements. Senator Corzine introduced the amendment very late in the process--just a few days ago. We first saw the draft language just a week ago. This was an incredible mobilization.

Thanks to everyone for your good work in calling your Senators.

We lost just 6 Democrats -- Baucus, Bingham, Lincoln, Miller, Nelson (NE), and Breaux and picked up 3 Republicans -- Snowe, Collins and Smith. I think this will resonate more with some of the Republicans in the House so don't give up on them.

The final vote on fast track was 66-30.


As I am sure you know, new rules on trade in services are being negotiated at the World Trade
Organization as part of a round to expand the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) and in the Free Trade Area of the Americas process. This could lead to trade agreements under which services traditionally administered by federal, state and local governments would be
threatened by rules favorable to competition by foreign corporations. Policies that protect public services but that could put competing private providers at a disadvantage could be challenged, even if government involvement is needed to guarantee access to such essential services as Social Security, health care and education.

For instance, states could be barred from providing subsidies to public universities to level the playing field with private providers. In the end, the cost of higher education for all students would increase.

The USTR should leave decisions relating to the privatization of national security, Social Security, public health and safety, and education services to Congress and other elected officials.

The purpose of the amendment is to ensure that any change in the provision of significant public services be made democratically, based on our national values. The amendment would ensure that Congress and elected state and local officials have a full opportunity to debate the
merits of privatizing essential public services. Even if Congress grants the president extended authority in trade matters, it should retain full and unfettered responsibility with respect to the provision of public services.

The current fast track bill would increase the power of trade negotiators to place new constraints on the ability of Congress and state and local lawmakers to set public policy regarding a broad range of services. Given the potentially serious and far-reaching consequences of these agreements, it is imperative that Congress develop clear, enforceable limits for our negotiators in order to ensure that new trade rules do not undermine the provision of key public services. This amendment will keep responsibility for public service provision in the United States where it belongs: Congress.