The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
Posted: June 19, 2015
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a 12-nation pact among the U.S. and Asia-Pacific nations, is in limbo after House Democrats rejected a key provision needed to move forward with negotiations. The proposed "fast track" legislation is a key piece of President Obama's second- term legacy.
Last week, in a stunning move, House Democrats voted against the President's desire to acquire "fast track" legislation. The bill would allow the President to submit trade deals to Congress for an up-or-down vote without amendments.
Organized labor is strongly opposed to the legislation. There are some who feel that NAFTA, which was approved by Congress when President Bill Clinton occupied the White House, has negatively affected unions since many jobs were moved offshore.
Now the sticking point is whether House Republican leaders can remove the Trade Adjustment Assistance program from the bill that was voted down by Democrats. The Trade Adjustment Assistance program, which expires at the end of September, assists workers who are determined to have lost their jobs because of production shifts overseas or import competition.
"We're trying to figure out the best way to pass both measures," said Rep. Ron Kind (Dem., Wis.), chairman of the New Democrat Coalition, a group of centrist, business-friendly Democrats.
On a related note, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is running for the Democratic nomination for the Presidency, has recently taken a different stance on the Trans-Pacific Partnership. In her memoir, "Hard Choices", Mrs. Clinton said that the trade deal is "a strategic initiative that would strengthen the position of the United States in Asia". However, now that she's running for President, Mrs. Clinton refused to say where she stood on the fast-track legislation while on a recent campaign trip.
It would be a shame if Mrs. Clinton back-tracked on a bill that could improve trade relations with the emerging nations that would be part of the new trade agreement.
And if the House can figure out a way to separate the piece of legislation that forced House Democrats to vote against TPP, then President Obama can gloat that he was a friend of business after all.