Obama To Have Fast-Track Authority On Controversial Trade Agreement

Members of Congress agreed to a new trade deal on Thursday (April 16) that would allow President Barack Obama to continue with a more advanced trade agreement with nations in the Pacific.

In a bipartisan showing, members of the Senate Finance Committee agreed to fast-track authority for Obama when it comes to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trading relationship between the United States and Pacific nations, such as Japan, Canada and Vietnam, the Wall Street Journal reported. This "fast-track" bill would give Obama so-called trade promotion authority, or T.P.A. 

In order for the legislation to be approved, the President must reach out to House Democrats, who oppose the legislation. The committee votes are planned for next week, and prominent Democrats in the Senate are now speaking out against the deal.

“I don’t believe in these agreements anymore,” said Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, likely the next Senate Minority Leader when current Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada retires.

The backlash comes at an interesting time for Hillary Clinton. As she recently announced her second bid for the White House, voters will now be reminded of her husband’s, former President Bill Clinton, skillful negotiations and approval of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994. Many Democrats are also calling for Clinton to voice her opinion on the issue.

Other prominent Democratic groups, such as labor unions, have also vocally opposed the legislation.

“We can’t afford another bad deal that lowers wages and outsources jobs,” said Richard Trumka, the head of the nation’s biggest union, the AFL-CIO. “We want Congress to keep its leverage over trade negotiations – not rubber-stamp a deal that delivers profits for global corporations, but not good jobs for working people.”

However, top government officials working for the White House are asking Congress to approve the measure.

“T.P.A. sends a strong signal to our trading partners that Congress and the administration speak with one voice to the rest of the world on our priorities,” said U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, the New York Times reports.

Sources: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons


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