WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, a Democrat from Maine's 2nd District, has re-introduced trade reform legislation to Congress that would set labor, environmental and food and product safety standards for future trade agreements. Michaud, chair of the House Trade Working Group, held a press conference announcing the move on Wednesday in Washington, D.C.
The bill would also establish a review process for existing trade agreements, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and agreements made within the World Trade Organization, which some have blamed for contributing to the decline in manufacturing jobs in states like Maine.
"We all know that we live in a globalized world, but we need to ensure trade is fair for our workers and economy," said Michaud in a release.
Ed Gilman, a spokesman for Michaud, said the legislation, which was first introduced last July, provides a framework for a "fairer" kind of trade policy.
"We're trying to make sure that not only (the White House), but also the Congress is on this issue, realizing that we have a real opportunity to change things for the better," he said in an interview.
President Obama spoke favorably about reviewing current trade agreements while campaigning in the Midwest last year, but has since appointed a fairly staunch free trade supporter as his U.S. Trade Representative, Gilman said.
The bill is widely supported by fair trade, environment, faith, farm and good government groups, Michaud said.
More than 100 of Michaud's colleagues, mostly Democrats, have signed on to support the measure, including Maine's 1st District Congresswoman Chellie Pingree.