GOP Senators Introduce Plan to End Permanent U.S. Free Trade with China

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), joined by Sens. Ted Budd (R-NC), Rick Scott (R-FL), and J.D. Vance (R-OH), introduced a plan to end the United States’ decades-long, job-killing free trade status with China.

In 2001, China entered the World Trade Organization (WTO) with the backing of former President Bush’s administration and was subsequently awarded “permanent normal trade relations status” by the U.S. after congressional approval.

As a result of authorizing U.S. free trade with China, nearly four million American jobs have been eliminated from the U.S. economy from 2001 to 2018 — including almost three million domestic manufacturing jobs, as multinational corporations readily shipped jobs overseas without penalties from the government.

During that same period, at least 50,000 American manufacturing plants closed down.

Cotton’s legislation, the China Trade Relations Act, would end China’s permanent normal trade relations status. Instead, presidential administrations would choose whether or not to authorize China’s free trade status with the U.S.

A majority in Congress would also get the power to override a president’s decision.

“For twenty years, Communist China has held permanent most-favored-nation status, which has supercharged the loss of American manufacturing jobs,” Cotton said in a statement:

China never deserved this privilege in the first place, and China certainly does not deserve it today. It’s time to protect American jobs and hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for their forced labor camps and egregious human rights violations. [Emphasis added]

Budd said that the legislation is “one of the most effective ways to push back” on the Chinese Communist Party’s economic dominance and human rights abuses.

In addition, Cotton’s legislation would also expand the list of human rights and trade abuses under federal law that would disqualify a country like China from receiving most-favored-nation status unless a president signs a waiver.

Vance noted, in a statement, that his home state of Ohio has been particularly devastated by U.S. free trade with China:

… we have lost over 130,000 jobs since Congress made the catastrophic mistake of granting China special trade privileges two decades ago. I have seen the devastating effects of this job loss firsthand, and I know it’s past time we did something to reverse that trend.

Scott said “there is no reason why” the U.S. ought to be advancing the economic goals of China, calling the policy “absolutely absurd” in a statement.

“It is time to put American interests first, not the [Chinese Communist Party], and reverse this antiquated law,” Scott said.

While skyrocketing U.S. trade deficits have led to devastation across America’s working and middle class communities over the last two decades, tariffs would be a boon for reshoring jobs and boosting wages, studies show.

A recent study from economists at the Coalition for a Prosperous America, for instance, finds that tariffs on nearly all foreign imports would create about 10 million American jobs while boosting domestic output.



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