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Date: Sat, 17 Jul 1999 12:21:22 -0500 (CDT)
From: Mike Dolan <mdolan@citizen.org>
Subject: NAFTA for Africa passed today
Article: 70134
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Message-ID: <bulk.21511.19990719061531@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

TO Fair Trade Activists and Organizers
From Field Folk, Global Trade Watch, Public Citizen [Mike/Margrete/Alesha/Darci]

NAFTA for Africa passed today

From Mike Dolan, Public Citizen, 17 July 1999

First of all, we want to thank you. The grassroots pressure on this Congress, in opposition to NAFTA for Africa and in support of HOPE for Africa, has been tremendous. Right up to the showdown on the House floor, you were calling your Members, and we are very grateful and count ourselves lucky to work with such great activists. All allies and affiliates of the Citizens Trade Campaign should be commended for keeping the heat on throughout this historic debate.

The vote was 234 - 163. Here are some thoughts from Lori Wallach, the Director of the Global Trade Watch team:

This has not been a good day for the Fair Trade forces, although it was not the disaster AGOA’s supporters were predicting for us either.

Despite the huge pile on by the bad guys and incredible threats by Charlie Rangel and the Administration (like no TAA money for South Texas until the Members down their committed to support AGOA)—they ended up with the same level of support as last year!

And, they lost support in the Congressional Black Caucus—including of very senior members Rep. John Lewis and Rep. Maxine Waters. This is actually a fairly amazing outcome when you consider how much more effort the White House, corporate lobby and House leaders put into it.

The bottom line is that the AGOA boosters needed to get an early vote with a bigger margin to reverse the outcome from last year—which was a slow death in the Senate (which of course we call know took some work on our part. . .) They did not get their early vote because of the trouble we caused them and now after six months of piling on, they did not improve their margin.

For AGOA and us, Its off to the Senate where, with hard work, we will stop AGOA again like last year. But, wouldn’t it have been fun to kill it in the House. . . .

Meanwhile, for anyone who did not see the debate: it was mostly pleasant and focused on substance, an excellent outcome of the agreement Reps. Jackson and Rangel came to about tone. Rep. Maxine Waters was an amazing presence on the floor; its too bad she was not involved earlier because she was incredibly persuasive and passionate. So was Rep. Danny Davis. Besides Rep. Jackson, Reps. Bonior, Sherrod Brown, Kucinich were great.

All that having been said, this entire day been has been rigged against us in a way reminiscent of NAFTA which makes it even more amazing we did not end up getting up butts totally kicked:

1. Despite that and the full court press, on final passage AGOA did not pick up any support. (Last year they had 233 votes and this year 234) Which means we can expect the same Senate demise of the bill given there is the same House support that resulted in the bill dying in the Senate last year. They needed to have a very early (February), much more robust vote (higher supporter number) and they failed. Because AGOA’s Senate prospects are dim, Sen. Feingold will introduce an alternative Africa trade bill more closely aligned to the HOPE bill.

2. We faced a new phenomena on this legislation this year: Ranking Ways and Means Member Charlie Rangel simply decided he would not allow this bill to go down—and started threatening everyone from Gephardt to other CBC members if they did not support him. Given this situation, it is not totally surprising that several NY members who promised us they would oppose AGOA turned coat—like McCarthy, Wiener and several leadership guys who promised one way and voted the opposite like Sabo, Waxman, Oberstar (one of Rangel’s truly self-destructive threats was to ensure none of them ever became chairs by messing up Social Security which is the issue they think they take back the House on).

3. Do not fail to congratulate yourself on the assorted swing targets we picked up: Consider getting the two Udalls Napolitano, Holt, Thompson (CA), Rodriguez, Shows, —Plus seeing Rep. McKinney, Waters, Lewis, Blagojevich, Menendez, Vento, and Wise switch sides.

4. We did not have a member leading the fight against AGOA as much as a leader pushing HOPE—which is to say that Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. was not doing the same person-to-person lobbying against AGOA that Rangel was doing for it. Thus, the Dems we lost were folks on whom we were not even working! Patsy Mink? Come on... who could have thunk it. But Rangel went person-to-person to his friends. I think we lost quite a few of these folks on the floor to such Rangel arm twisting AFTER they had committed to us. A related phenomena is that Rangel (having everyone by the political short hairs - i.e.. tax cuts - next year) was able to keep all of his votes in DC this very hot Friday afternoon while of the 38 (!) members who split out of town and didn’t vote, almost all of the missing Dems were our votes.

5. The Rules vote—which was a move of depravity without parallel—was greased by Gephardt’s betrayal—sneaking out from under us members we never ever worry about (Delauro) and jerking the chain of folks like Abercrombie who always faces a hard re-election and relies on Gephardt’s leadership PAC money. The really gross twist on this is that after Gephardt made these guys walk the plank, he did not vote himself... Thus avoiding going on the record. he needs to hear about this...

6. The mendacity level was up: the members who all-and-out lied to us need to get the political equivalent of a 2X4 up side the head—Hoeffel, Waxman, Sabo, McCarthy (NY), Wiener. Also: Hoeffel and Berkley need to know they will not be long for this Congress is they conduct themselves like that!

So, its on to the Senate. Looking forward to winning there with everyone....


For Immediate Release: Friday, July 16

For More Information, Contact: Patrick Woodall (202) 454-5105

No Gain in House Support for African Trade Bill:
AGOA in Trouble in Senate
Opposition to AGOA Grows in Congressional Black Caucus

WASHINGTON—Despite a major campaign by some of the House’s most powerful members and a coalition of America’s largest corporations, today the controversial Africa trade bill failed to gain additional support in the House. Indeed, opposition in the Congressional Black Caucus increased.

Last year, an identical bill failed in the Senate after it left the House with the same level of support. Already, some Senators have come out in opposition to this year’s AGOA. An alternative to AGOA is being drafted by Senators who recognize AGOA is a non-starter in the Senate, but who want Congress to consider an African trade bill.

They needed an early and overwhelming victory to change last year’s failed outcome in the Senate, said Lori Wallach, Director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch. They planned a vote in February and now, five months later, they are exactly where they were in 1998 except with less support from African American members.

This year, the bill received 234 votes, compared to the bill’s passage last year with 233 with a majority of Democrats opposed. AGOA supporters needed substantially more support to improve their chances in the Senate. The support in the Congressional Black Caucus, considered a barometer of legitimacy on this issue, declined. Several key CBC members, including Maxine Waters, John Lewis and Cynthia McKinney, who voted for the legislation last year voted against it this time.

Support for the corporate-trade agenda is stalled in the Congress, said Scott Nova, Executive Director of the Citizens Trade Campaign. Americans oppose these NAFTA expansions, and despite the campaign cash from big business and massive lobbying campaign by the largest industries and trade associations, support for the African trade bill has not increased.

The legislation would require the US President to annually certify African countries to change their domestic economic and social spending policies as a condition for obtaining meager trade benefits. The bill would impose conditions including lowering corporate tax rates, lowering spending on education and health care, and ending laws against foreign ownership of natural resources. The bill was opposed by civil society organizations across the US and Africa including the largest labor, environmental and consumer groups as well as a coalition of African American ministers.

The proponents of this misguided legislation expected it to fly through the House in February, with far more votes in support than in 1998. Now, five months later, it staggers to the Senate with stagnant House support despite intensive lobbying by some of the most powerful Members of the body and by the Administration, added Wallach.

NEXT, it is imperative that we thank the Members who voted right and hold those who went wrong accountable. You will receive under separate digital cover sample letters for you to put on your local Fair Trade coalition letterhead and dispatch to selected members of your congressional delegation.

MEANTIME—take the weekend off. We are.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Mike Dolan, Field Director
Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch
ph 202.546.4996 x322
fx 202.547.7392