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Mark Kirk on Free Trade

Republican Jr Senator; previously Representative (IL-10)


Develop ability to export goods to foreign markets

Illinois jobs depend on our ability to export goods to foreign markets. Mark Kirk is a leader in Congress in helping small and medium-sized businesses--especially farmers and support industries--export their products to foreign markets like China. Mark will fight to expand the Foreign Commercial Service, the Small Business Administration, the US Department of Agriculture and the US Trade Development Agency--key agencies that help Illinois farmers and businesses establish and expand exports.
Source: 2010 Senate campaign website, kirkforsenate.com, "Issues" , Dec 25, 2009

Voted YES 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.

Kirk says, "Kirk (R-IL)"

Reference: Peru Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act; Bill H.R. 3688 ; vote number 2007-1060 on Nov 8, 2007

Voted NO on assisting workers who lose jobs due to globalization.

H.R.3920: Trade and Globalization Act of 2007: Amends the Trade Act of 1974 to allow the filing for trade adjustment assistance (TAA) by adversely affected workers. Revises group eligibility requirements for TAA to cover: (1) a shift of production or services to abroad; or (2) imports of articles or services from abroad.

Proponents support voting YES because:

Rep. RANGEL: In recent years, trade policy has been a dividing force. This legislation develops a new trade policy that more adequately addresses the growing perception that trade is not working for American workers. The Trade and Globalization Assistance Act would expand training and benefits for workers while also helping to encourage investment in communities that have lost jobs to increased trade--particularly in our manufacturing sector. The bill is a comprehensive policy expanding opportunities for American workers, industries, and communities to prepare for and overcome the challenges created by expanded trade.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Rep. McCRERY: We should be considering trade adjustment assistance in the context of trade opportunities generally for US workers. That is to say, I think we should be considering modifications to our assistance network in the context of the pending free trade agreements that are before the Congress. Unfortunately, we are not doing that. We are considering TAA in isolation. [We should instead] restructure TAA from a predominantly income support program into a job retraining program. Other problems include that H.R. 3920 would:

Kirk says, "Kirk (R-IL)"

Reference: Trade and Globalization Assistance Act; Bill HR3920 ; vote number 2007-1025 on Oct 31, 2007

Voted YES on implementing CAFTA, Central America Free Trade.

To implement the Dominican Republic-Central America-United States Free Trade Agreement. A vote of YES would:

Kirk says, "Kirk (R-IL)"

Reference: CAFTA Implementation Bill; Bill HR 3045 ; vote number 2005-443 on Jul 28, 2005

Voted YES 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.

Kirk says, "Kirk (R-IL)"

Reference: Bill sponsored by Rep Tom DeLay [R, TX-22]; Bill H.R.4759 ; vote number 2004-375 on Jul 14, 2004

Voted YES 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.

Kirk says, "Kirk (R-IL)"

Reference: US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement; Bill HR 2739 ; vote number 2003-432 on Jul 24, 2003

Promote the Andean Free Trade Agreement.

Kirk adopted the Republican Main Street Partnership agenda item:

After a month of debate the Senate passed a The Andean Free Trade Agreement (H.R. 3009) including language to grant the president trade promotion authority. With the unanimous support of all eight Republican Main Street Partnership Senators, H.R. 3009 passed 66 to 30. Included in the legislation is an expansion of Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) providing a tax credit for 70% of the cost of health insurance purchased individually after losing employment as a result of a trade agreement. While the Senate maintained its pro-trade reputation by defeating amendments by Senator Kerry (MA) and Senator Byrd (WV) diluting Trade Promotion Authority, one amendment strongly opposed by Main Street remains in the bill. An amendment offered by Senator Dayton (MN) and Senator Craig (ID) would allow the Senate to remove from fast-track consideration any provision of an agreement that would limit US trade remedy laws. Main Street firmly believes that this negates Trade Promotion Authority entirely, and supports President Bush's veto threat should this language remain intact after a House/Senate conference.

Source: Republican Main Street Partnership Legislative Agenda 02-RMSP1 on May 24, 2002

Rated 50% by CATO, indicating a mixed record on trade issues.

Kirk scores 50% 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.

Kirk 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

Sponsored sugar quotas & import tariffs to stabilize prices.

Kirk co-sponsored Sugar Reform Act

Congressional Summary:Sugar Reform Act:

Proponent's argument for bill:(Senators' opinions reported on politico.com) "We subsidize a handful of wealthy sugar growers at the expense of everybody in America," said Sen. Patrick Toomey (R-Pa.), whose home state boasts the chocolate giant, Hershey's. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), warned her colleagues against unraveling the commodity coalition behind the farm bill: "We forget that this is much bigger than a sugar program. It's much bigger than any one single commodity. When you single out one commodity, you threaten the effectiveness of the overall farm bill."

Opponent's argument against bill:(Food and Business News, May 2013): Users claim the sugar program nearly doubles the price of sugar to US consumers and has resulted in lost jobs as some candy manufacturers have moved operations to other countries. Producers claim the program has resulted in more stable sugar supplies, provides a safety net for growers and that world prices are often lower because of subsidies in origin countries, which would put US growers at a disadvantage should import restrictions be lifted. Producers also note that US sugar prices have declined more than 50% from late 2011 highs. They also maintain that jobs have been lost or moved out of the US for reasons other than sugar prices, mainly labor and health care costs, noting that candy makers' profits have been strong in recent years.

Source: S.345/ H.R.693 13-S345 on Feb 14, 2013

Other candidates on Free Trade: Mark Kirk on other issues:
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Pat Quinn
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Jim Oberweis
Richard Durbin
Sharon Hansen

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Page last updated: Dec 24, 2013