In what’s being seem as setback for President Barack Obama, House Democrats voted Friday to reject a key component required for passage before lawmakers can grant the president fast-track trade authority on the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.
Wisconsin Democrat Mark Pocan was among 144 Democrats voting against the Trade Adjustment Authority, which assists workers who’ve lost jobs due to trade deals. After TAA failed, the House approved fast-track legislation, known as Trade Promotion Authority, in largely symbolic 219-211 vote. Enactment of TPA is contingent on approval of TAA. Pocan and fellow Wisconsin Democrat Gwen Moore voted against both measures.
“If we vote for TPA, we will have no ability to make it better, for this trade deal or any other trade deal for the next six years, under any President,” said Pocan.
La Crosse’s Ron Kind was a yes vote on TAA and TPA, along with Republicans Paul Ryan and Glenn Grothman. He countered his colleagues’ concerns about how the trade negotiations are being conducted. “There will be plenty of for us to decide if it makes sense for Wisconsin or not,” Kind said. He also cautioned that Democrats are “playing with fire” by rejecting the Trade Adjustment Authority, which is scheduled to expire in September if lawmakers don’t vote for funding.
“I would like to see a deal that has better, real protective teeth for labor and environmental law, strong protections for American sovereignty, and better protections for food safety and more,” Pocan said on the House floor Friday.
“No country is going to negotiate with us, if they also have to negotiate with us, if they also have to negotiate with 335 independent contractors on Capitol Hill,” said Kind. “They know that would be a negotiation without end.”