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In Senate HELP hearing, Senator Murray highlights impacts of President Trump’s trade war on workers in Washington state, across the country

Senator Murray also called for fair trade policies that lift up workers here and abroad

Senator Murray: “President Trump is playing a very dangerous game right now and it’s the American workers who are being forced pay the price”

ICYMI: As President Trump’s tariffs threaten Washington state’s economy, Senator Murray visits Eastern, Southwest Washington businesses and workers to observe local impact of growing trade wars – LINK

***WATCH VIDEO SENATOR MURRAY’S OPENING STATEMENT HERE***

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, slammed President Trump’s reckless trade policies at a HELP Committee hearing on the impacts of the Trump Administration’s proposed tariffs on the auto industry. Senator Murray called for common-sense trade policies that level the playing field for American workers by lifting wages, improving working conditions, and increasing workers’ bargaining power.

During the hearing, Senator Murray also highlighted stories she heard from workers, entrepreneurs, and business leaders during her recent travels in Washington state, where she met with agricultural growers and producers in Ritzville and longshoremen at the Port of Vancouver to learn more about how they are navigating President Trump’s escalating trade disputes and the direct and downstream damage of President Trump’s tariffs on Washington state workers, families, and the state’s economy. During her visits, workers and community leaders shared with Senator Murray how President Trump’s reckless trade policies have caused uncertainty in their workplace and industry, leaving many people concerned about their communities and personal economic futures. A critic of the Trump Administration’s scattershot use of tariffs, in June Senator Murray sent a letter to President Trump to lay out what’s at stake for Washington state, and urged his administration to consider the state’s economic priorities as he and his team pursue additional trade enforcement actions.

Key excerpts of Senator Murray’s opening remarks:

“We don’t often talk about trade and tariffs in this committee—that’s usually a conversation taking place over in the Finance Committee. But there is no question President Trump’s escalating trade war is already hurting a lot of workers in this country—and things will only worsen for working families if he continues to pursue his reckless trade policies. And that is something everyone, not just those on the Finance Committee, should be worried about. Now, I know the Chairman is very focused on the impact of Trump’s proposed tariffs on the auto industry—which is important. But the damage done by the President’s ill-conceived ideas could go much farther than just the auto industry—this has the potential of hurting workers in every industry across all 50 states.”

“And what’s so important to remember is that our growers and longshoremen are just the first to feel the effects of President Trump’s misguided trade war. We know their losses will ripple out—to workers at businesses I’ve heard from, to farm suppliers, to local car dealerships, to regional businesses and restaurants—to them, and their families, and their communities—and so many more. The list goes on. The domino effect is real and it is urgent for my home state—and for every state.”

“America’s workers are dedicated, increasingly productive, and creative. But it’s unfair to ask them to compete against countries who are dumping their products into U.S. markets with workers making sub-minimum, poverty wages—or workers who face deadly violence or intimidation when they organize for better conditions. Fair trade should be about respecting workers while growing jobs here at home and opening up markets for our goods overseas, not a race to the bottom.”

“But President Trump isn’t pursuing a rational trade policy that puts workers first. I am deeply concerned that if he continues to engage in this scattershot, tit-for-tat trade war—while demonizing our closest allies and long-time trading partners instead of working with them to root out bad actors and address systemic issues—it will be the millions of workers in communities across this country forced to bear the brunt of President Trump’s trade war.”

Watch video of Senator Murray’s opening remarks HERE.

Full text of Senator Murray’s opening remarks:

“Thank you, Chairman Alexander, and thank you to all of our witnesses for joining us here today.

“I especially want to thank Ms. Thea Lee, who has a long history of fighting on behalf of workers for better trade policies.

“Thank you, Thea, for your advocacy.

“We don’t often talk about trade and tariffs in this committee—that’s usually a conversation taking place over in the Finance Committee.

“But there is no question President Trump’s escalating trade war is already hurting a lot of workers in this country—and things will only worsen for working families if he continues to pursue his reckless trade policies.

“And that is something everyone, not just those on the Finance Committee, should be worried about.

“Now, I know the Chairman is very focused on the impact of Trump’s proposed tariffs on the auto industry—which is important.

“But the damage done by the President’s ill-conceived ideas could go much farther than just the auto industry—this has the potential of hurting workers in every industry across all 50 states.

“As a voice for my home state, I ask that we broaden the conversation—because perhaps no state has more to lose in Trump’s trade wars than Washington state.

“Roughly forty percent of all jobs in Washington state are tied to trade—so whether we’re talking about wheat farmers in Eastern Washington, or longshoremen loading goods onto ships at one of our many ports on the west side—a lot of workers in my home state are at risk.

“Last month, I had the opportunity to meet with members of the agriculture community—as well as the men and women working at our ports.

“And I have to tell you, they are already feeling the pain of Trump’s reckless trade policies.

“Just one example is our tree fruit growers—the people who produce delicious cherries and those famous Washington apples.

“They have estimated their losses are already in the tens of millions of dollars for this year alone due to retaliatory tariffs. Others are feeling the pain because of the uncertainty of this Administration’s ham-handed approach. They are wrapping up this year’s harvest and should be planning for the next.

“And while the Trump administration is telling them to be patient—they can’t hold out forever.

“And as they made clear to me, a one-time taxpayer-funded aid package, like the one the Trump Administration announced this summer, is not a long-term solution, even if it somehow trickled down to every affected worker—which, right now, it does not.

“And what’s so important to remember is that our growers and longshoremen are just the first to feel the effects of President Trump’s misguided trade war.

“We know their losses will ripple out—to workers at businesses I’ve heard from, to farm suppliers, to local car dealerships, to regional businesses and restaurants—to them, and their families, and their communities—and so many more. The list goes on. 

“The domino effect is real and it is urgent for my home state—and for every state.

“President Trump is playing a very dangerous game right now and it’s the American workers who are being forced pay the price.

“So how do we craft a trade policy that achieves fair trade and lifts up U.S. workers?

The answer is not to simply eliminate all trade barriers, including tariffs—but it also is not President Trump’s scattershot tariffs. 

“There is a toolbox at our disposal to help level the playing field.

“As one example, tariffs can be used carefully—and have been by several administrations—to combat unfair trade practices, balance the playing field, and improve conditions for workers.

“But they must be used in a strategic, coherent manner that frankly—has been missing from the current administration to date.

“And there are other tools that can be used to achieve fairer trade—including building stronger labor standards into our trade agreements to ensure that our trade partners are respecting their workers’ rights and to ensure American workers are competing on a level playing field.

“And labor standards must not be an afterthought—meaningful enforcement of basic labor rights abroad should be at the center of our trade policies.

“America’s workers are dedicated, increasingly productive, and creative.

“But it’s unfair to ask them to compete against countries who are dumping their products into U.S. markets with workers making sub-minimum, poverty wages—or workers who face deadly violence or intimidation when they organize for better conditions.

“Fair trade should be about respecting workers while growing jobs here at home and opening up markets for our goods overseas, not a race to the bottom.

“But President Trump isn’t pursuing a rational trade policy that puts workers first.

“I am deeply concerned that if he continues to engage in this scattershot, tit-for-tat trade war—while demonizing our closest allies and long-time trading partners instead of working with them to root out bad actors and address systemic issues—it will be the millions of workers in communities across this country forced to bear the brunt of President Trump’s trade war.

“Mr. Chairman—I stand ready to work with you, as well as anyone from either side of the aisle who is willing to work on solutions that restore certainty to our communities—and pursue trade policies that work for families, workers, and the states we represent.

“Our workers can’t wait much longer.

“Thank you.”