Congressional support for TPP dries up

Sen. Ron Wyden votes to block the proposal, saying Republicans aren’t adhering to an earlier deal.

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After shepherding President Barack Obama’s “fast track” trade proposal through committee, Sen. Ron Wyden has reversed course.

He said Republicans are reneging on an earlier deal as he voted to block the proposal Tuesday.


“Until there is a path to get all four bills passed … we will, certainly most of us, have to vote no,” Wyden told reporters after meeting privately with about 10 Democratic senators generally supportive of trade legislation. Among them were Washington Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell.

In the end, only one Democrat, Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., voted with the Republicans, who fell well short of the 60-vote majority they needed to proceed.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said he was willing to consider Democratic changes to the two trade bills that Republicans had decided to bring to the floor. Wyden, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, has been a key supporter of so-called “fast track” legislation that would lay out the terms for consideration of the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership. That’s a 12-nation trade pact favored by most of the business community — including Intel, Nike and other major employers in Oregon — but staunchly opposed by organized labor and a number of other left-of-center groups. The Oregon senator has repeatedly said that the deal he negotiated with Republicans includes a number of provisions that would help protect American workers and improve on previous trade pacts that critics have said helped speed the loss of manufacturing jobs to Asia.

Wyden said he would still like to see a deal completed, Oregon Public Broadcasting reports.

“It’s an opportunity to enact fresh, middle-class trade policies that will create high-skill, high-wage jobs in Oregon and across our land,” he said. “That opportunity is lost if this package of four bills gets winnowed down to two.”

Senate Democrats said they’ll only support the fast track legislation in tandem with a bill that would help workers harmed by trade agreements, as well as another bill that would punish countries that keep their currencies artificially low to make exports more attractive.

McConnell said he intends to keep fighting for the bill.

Labor groups celebrated the Senate vote, while industry groups bemoaned the blockage of TPP.

From the Portland Tribune:

“Today, a minority in the Senate failed American workers and the more than 14,000 manufacturers that make up the NAM, who need our nation to keep its mantle of economic leadership. New trade agreements negotiated under TPA would supercharge our exports, sales and opportunities for manufacturers to create jobs. As the Senate chooses to stand still, other countries are forging ahead with new trade deals that put U.S.-based manufacturers at a competitive disadvantage. We saw what happens today when facts lose out to myths,” said National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons.

“The Fast Track train went off the rails today. The U.S. Senate vote was supposed to generate momentum for Fast Track in the U.S. House of Representatives, where it’s in deep trouble, with almost every House Democrats and a significant bloc of GOP opposing it,” Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, which is part of a coalition opposing the legislation.


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