Friday, June 19, 2015

Suddenly Chris Van Hollen Votes Against A Free Trade Agreement-- First Time In Ten Years-- Primaries Work!


Van Hollen doesn't like having his feet held to the fire

Yesterday, Congressman Chris Van Hollen broke with his New Dem allies and his own legislative record by joining with the vast majority of Democrats to oppose Fast Track authority for the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement (TPP). Since coming to Congress, Congressman Van Hollen has voted in favor of nine free trade agreements but, in a signal of the growing clout of progressive leaders like Congresswoman Donna Edwards, he opposed a free trade agreement for the first time in a decade. The last ten years have seen Van Hollen support free trade agreements from Peru and Colombia to Korea and Singapore.

Congressman Van Hollen claimed the free trade agreement with Korea would "support at least 70,000 American jobs" and increase exports. The truth is that, since NAFTA, Maryland has actually lost 70,000 manufacturing jobs and since Congressman Van Hollen’s trade agreement with Korea, Maryland's trade deficit in the top 10 products the state exports to Korea has grown 24 percent.

Maryland workers and their families deserve a leader who will stand up for them all the time, regardless of which direction the political winds are blowing. Unfortunately, Congressman Van Hollen’s record adds up to a lost decade for Maryland families.

Back in April, John Fritze at the Baltimore Sun was already reporting that Donna was holding Van Hollen's feet to the fire on the trade legislation working its way through Congress. "Hitting on an issue that is closely followed by the state's politically powerful unions," he wrote, "the Edwards campaign criticized Rep. Chris Van Hollen for his past votes in favor of trade agreements with Colombia, South Korea and Panama-- deals that were all opposed by Edwards and a majority of House Democrats."
"In yet another stunning election time conversion, Congressman Van Hollen has changed yet another position," Edwards campaign spokesman Benjamin Gerdes told the Baltimore Sun. "Maryland families deserve a senator with firm convictions, not one who goes whichever way the political winds are blowing or who makes decisions based on the next election."

...Her campaign noted Van Hollen voted for the last three trade deals in 2011 — with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. On the Colombia vote, Van Hollen was one of 31 House Democrats to join a majority of Republicans to support the bill. The rest of the Democratic caucus-- 158 members-- voted against it.
Van Hollen clearly fears that his votes are now in the public spotlight because of the primary between himself and progressive icon Donna Edwards, who fights as tirelessly for working families as Van Hollen does for his Wall Street contributors. 

Similarly, reactionary New Dem and Wall Street puppet Patrick Murphy of Florida-- who has one of the most Republican voting records of any Democrat in Congress-- is battling for a Florida Senate seat against another progressive icon and champion of working families, Alan Grayson. And Murphy is suddenly holding his nose and voting against his GOP and New Dem allies. Normally an easy "get" for the TPP side, Murphy was forced to vote with progressives like Grayson and Edwards. That must have rankled him big time-- just as it did Van Hollen. No wonder conservatives hate primaries so much!

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