Chairman Smith Opening Statement: Field Hearing on Trade in America: Securing Supply Chains and Protecting the American Worker – Staten Island
As prepared for delivery.
“Welcome to today’s field hearing of the Ways and Means Committee about the future of America’s trade policy.
“As America’s front door to the world, New York City and ports like the one here on Staten Island, represent the front lines of America’s global trade. Last year, the total value of U.S. goods traded was approximately $5.3 trillion – that includes food from our farmers, the energy in our homes, the medical equipment in our hospitals, and everything in between.
“There isn’t a single worker, family, or business in our country that isn’t impacted by trade. Some positively, others negatively.
“Unfortunately, bad trade policies in Washington have allowed foreign countries to take advantage of our workers and destroy jobs. Last year, our trade deficit reached $945 billion, the largest total ever.
“The American worker should be at the center of our trade policy. That’s why the Ways and Means Committee is here today, to listen to Americans on the front lines about how we can revitalize fair trade in America. During the hearing we will be passing around notebooks. I’d like to ask our audience members to please share your thoughts about how Congress can improve U.S. trade policies. We want to hear from you.
“One key step is to secure our supply chains. We must reduce our dependency on nations who do not share our values or have aligned interests. To be clear, a country that cannot supply their own demand for food, energy, and medicine, but must instead rely on other nations to fulfill those basic needs, they are no longer independent, but they are politically dependent.
“That means producing more of our own medicine and energy, and where we can’t make it here, ensuring that we are sourcing from allies close to home. For our food supply it means making sure our farmers are viable and able to make a living off the land and sell American grown products without facing non-tariff barriers around the world.
“We need to aggressively enforce the commitments our trading partners made to treat U.S. products fairly. We must build on the progress from USMCA by pushing more trading partners to open their markets, so our farmers and small businesses can compete and win.
“American families need results.
“We must use trade enforcement tools to chart a new path forward to put American workers first and to hold accountable bad actors, including China.
“To do that, Congress must reassert its Constitutional role as the lead in U.S. trade policy. Right now, the Biden Administration is trying to work around Congress and create so-called frameworks that lack the force of law.
“Congress needs to shine a light on China’s human rights abuses and predatory trade practices. China is forging ahead with an aggressive trade agenda that cheats America, shapes the global playing field in its favor, and threatens key American supply chains and the livelihoods of American farmers and workers.
“What should be now clear to everyone here today is that what our country needs is a smart and strategic decoupling from China.
“Workers and small businesses being harmed by China’s unfair trade practices have been overlooked and forgotten for too long. They expect us to go further and to use the tools at our disposal to level the playing field for workers, farmers, and job creators. We’re here to make sure the future of U.S. trade includes their voices.
“I’d like to introduce our witnesses for today’s hearing: Dale Hemminger is a second generation owner and operator of Hemdale Farms Dairy and Greenhouses in Ontario County; John Atkins, our host today, is the President of Global Containers Terminal USA; Nury Turkel is the first U.S.-educated Uyghur-American lawyer and human rights advocate, who serves as the Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom; John Romano, CEO of Tronox; and Thomas O’Shei, President of the United Steel Workers Local 135.
“I want to thank our witnesses for taking time away from their families and businesses to share your stories and ideas.”