Washington – U.S. Rep. Kendrick B. Meek issued the following statement regarding the decision by House Republican leaders to postpone consideration of H.R. 6142, the Haitian Hemispheric Opportunity through Partnership Encouragement (HOPE) Act.
“After four years of lip service and no action, the HOPE Act was finally supposed to fulfill the promises of President Bush and the Republican Congressional leadership to provide trade assistance to Haitian textile manufacturers and bring needed jobs to that impoverished nation.
The House Ways and Means Committee was supposed to bring the bill up for a vote on Tuesday, September 26, in the House of Representatives. But once again, this Republican Congress has provided no trade assistance to Haiti. The HOPE bill was pulled on Monday night from the House floor by Republican leaders, and we understand that a vote this week is unlikely.
I would like to acknowledge and thank House Ways and Means ranking member Charles Rangel (D-NY) for his tireless work urging House leaders to put the bill back on the calendar.
The HOPE bill would have expanded trade preferences for Haiti allowing apparel assembled in Haiti using third-country fabrics duty-free access to the United States market. It is a scaled down version of The Haiti Economy Recovery Opportunity (HERO) bill, H.R. 4211, which I introduced in the House in this 109th Congress.
My HERO bill would have extended important trade benefits to Haiti in return for political, economic and social reforms by the Haitian government. However, the Republican leadership refused to bring my HERO bill to the House floor for consideration, even though the Senate passed it unanimously in the 108th Congress.
The pulling of the HERO bill is just the latest episode in a shameful record of neglect on Haiti by Republican leaders. Year after year, they refused to even consider the HERO bill. They delayed introducing the HOPE Act until the end of this Congress. Then, they scheduled it for consideration on the floor of the House, but removed it from the schedule. If Haiti were important to them, they would have included Haiti in the Central American-Dominican Republic Free Trade Act. The President and Congressional Republicans not only pushed CAFTA-DR through Congress, but once it passed, the President held a signing ceremony in the White House. Haiti requires such attention.