One Week in Congress: Bush Wins on Trade and Torture

November 8, 2007

The first full week of November has not been a particularly good one for working people on Capitol Hill. On November 8, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the U.S. - Peru free trade deal by a 285-132 margin, with 109 Democrats supporting it and 116 opposing it. This trade deal is the latest in a succession of job-killing, job-exporting schemes modeled after the disastrous NAFTA, and its passage was a major goal of the Bush administration and big business. The Peru deal now also lends important momentum to the Bush regime in its renewed push to win Congressional passage of similar deals with Colombia, Korea, and Panama. Later that evening, the U.S. Senate delivered another blow to working people as seven Democrats voted with forty six Republicans to confirm Michael Mukasey as the next Attorney General. The vote to confirm was 53 to 40, with Democrats providing the margin of victory for the Bush nominee. This came despite the fact that while under questioning from Senators in the confirmation process Mukasey refused to rule out the use of illegal torture on military prisoners. Commenting on these twin outrages, UE General Secretary-Treasurer Bruce Klipple said, “Working people do not expect any better from the Republican minority in Congress. They do, however, expect and demand better than this from Democrats. Working people have one more job-killing trade deal added to the pile making their daily life all that more difficult. Our trade policies are completely failed, as evidenced by the massive job loss and the plummeting value of our U.S. currency. Nearly half of all House Democrats willingly refuse to recognize this catastrophe, however. Instead, they are happy to imitate the Republicans and cheerfully accept campaign contributions from the industries that profit from our job-exporting trade policies. And does our U.S. Senate quiz Mukasey about whether or not he will prosecute the rampant wave of corporate crime that is engulfing our nation? Absolutely not. Even worse, 53 Senators vote to confirm a man for Attorney General who condones the torture of prisoners.” Klipple continued, “Earlier this week election results from several states showed that working people are ready for change, that they are fed-up with the Bush agenda of war, corruption, job elimination, and corporate crime. The failure of too many Democrats this week on these two basic issues – trade and torture – is an insult to the working people who gave them a Congressional majority in the 2006 elections, and who expect them to stand up to the Bush regime, not surrender to it.”