Haiti Economic Lift Program Act Of 2010

Floor Speech

Date: May 5, 2010
Location: Washington, DC
Issues: Foreign Aid

Mr. McHENRY. I want to thank the ranking member, Mr. Camp, for his leadership on the Ways and Means Committee and for yielding time this morning.

Well, as we well know, we've seen the devastation of the earthquake in Haiti, the loss of life, the suffering. It's tragic, and certainly the American people rally to the Haitian people.

But what we have before us today is not just about Haiti; it's about jobs in the United States. And, unfortunately, there's a provision here within the bill that will hurt jobs here in the United States. This legislation will allow for duty-free access to yarns and fabrics produced in other Third World countries, and Haiti will simply be more of a location for transshipment than other nations.

Bad trade deals like this one have devastated my district in western North Carolina and devastated manufacturing in the United States. Counties in my district have unemployment rates of up to 16 percent, some that my colleagues here can relate to in their regions of the country, but certainly devastating in western North Carolina. And it's a time when our people need jobs. Our families are hurting. And this bill is simply giving away some of those jobs. In a time when we should help small businesses, this is hurting them, specifically in my district.

In the past, Haiti has had tremendous success producing apparel using U.S. yarns and fabrics. We should be strengthening that partnership, not turning Haiti into a stopping-off point for more transshipment of goods from Asia and around the globe. Our government should represent its people and the best interests of its people. Unfortunately, this Congress is not, this leadership is not, and unfortunately, this bill with this provision is not. Charity is one thing, but giving away our jobs is a completely different matter.

With that, I would oppose this bill.

Mr. LEVIN. Mr. Speaker, I now yield 2 minutes to the very distinguished gentlewoman from California (Ms. Lee), who has been so actively involved in this legislation and related efforts.

Ms. LEE of California. Let me first thank Chairman Levin for your support for Haiti and for your leadership on this issue and so many issues.

The Haiti Economic Lift Program, or HELP, Act of 2010 is critical in Haiti's recovery and reconstruction. And let me thank Chairman Rangel, as chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, for your vision in crafting this legislation. As one of the founders of the Congressional Black Caucus, you have been a longtime leader on issues related to Haiti. Chairman Rangel has been a strong ally of the Haitian people throughout his career, and we want to once again thank you for your consistent work on behalf of the CBC and on behalf of the entire Congress.

The CBC does have a very long history of working with Haiti, the Haitian people, and the Haitian American communities. And many of us have traveled to the country several times. I was there just over a month ago and saw firsthand the extent of the devastation and the challenges of moving forward. And many people asked about this bill.

During the current crisis, the CBC has and will continue to work closely with the Obama administration, our Speaker, Chairman Levin, and our NGOs to provide whatever assistance we can to provide for support, relief, reconstruction, and recovery efforts.

I would also like to thank Chairman Levin and also Ranking Member Camp for their bipartisan work in bringing this bill to the floor today and for their commitment to supporting the people of Haiti as they rebuild their lives and their nation. This is not a partisan issue, and I am glad to see the commitment to the Haitian people within this Congress.

That commitment, as many of us know, cannot and it should not be limited to foreign aid. Emergency assistance is vital to any humanitarian operation. However, it cannot form the sole backbone of a long-term recovery strategy for promoting reconstruction and development. It is about many, many initiatives, including debt relief, which another member of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congresswoman Maxine Waters so valiantly----

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The time of the gentlewoman has expired.

Mr. LEVIN. I yield the gentlewoman 1 additional minute.

Ms. LEE of California. Thank you.

Such strategies must take a whole-of-government approach to foster homegrown economic growth. That is exactly what the HELP Act aims to do. It expands upon the successes of existing trade preferences to spur investment and empower the private sector to take the mantle of rebuilding along with the government. The trade preferences provided in this legislation are certainly not a cure-all, but they offer powerful incentives to spur significant job creation, one of the surest ways to promote development and to reduce poverty.

So I call on all of my colleagues to join Chairman Levin, Chairman Rangel, and Ranking Member Camp to support this measure and to express our steadfast solidarity once again and our continued partnership with the resilient people of Haiti.

Thank you again. Thanks for the time.

Mr. CAMP. Mr. Speaker, I have no further requests for time, and I reserve the balance of my time.

Mr. LEVIN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I want to say a few words about the nature of this legislation.

I want to start off by saluting the bipartisanship in this House. I want to salute the work of our staffs, working with USTR.