TPP slowed by defeat of accompanying bill

President Obama cannot pursue Trans-Pacific Partnership unless Trade Adjustment Assistance bill passes.

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The “fast-track” trade bill was slowed Friday when accompanying legislation, the Trade Adjustment Assistance bill, was voted down by the U.S. House of Representatives.

The House did pass the Trade Promotion Authority bill that sets the table for President Barack Obama to join 11 other nations in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. But the TPA can’t advance without the passage of TAA.

Another vote on the TAA is expected for Tuesday.

Trade Promotion Authority legislation ran into a similar hurdle in the U.S. Senate, but eventually passed, so Friday’s vote could be just a temporary setback. But it adds to the constant delays that could prevent Obama from getting a final trade pact agreement with the 11 other nations participating before the U.S.-side becomes too embroiled in campaigning for the 2016 elections. Any change to the bill in the U.S. House would require Senate reconsideration of the legislation, slowing the process further.

“But, for the White House and business community, delay is better than defeat,” said Richard Katz of the Oriental Economist Report. “We are not predicting that TPA will pass the House. That vote is still too close to call. What we are saying is that it’s too early to start putting nails in the coffin,” he said in a commentary.

(SOURCE: Associated Press)

Oregon lawmakers were split on the issue.

Oregon Congressman Kurt Schrader (D-Dist. 5), who voted for the TPA bill, issued a statement after it passed saying, “The Executive has held the power to negotiate bilateral trade agreements with other nations since Franklin Delano Roosevelt was in the White House. The 2015 TPA is very different than the last TPA in 2002. It addresses the very concerns labor and environmentalists have asked for. They have helped make it so much better. International, accountable labor and environmental standards are now in the core of the document.”

But Oregon U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkely, who opposed the bill, issued a statement which said, “When crafting a new trade structure our national objective should be raising wages and living standards for middle-class Americans. Past trade deals have consistently failed to live up to their promises and made it harder for working Americans to get ahead. Today’s House vote gives us a chance to revisit our trade policy to ensure that future trade deals do better.

(SOURCE: Portland Tribune)

Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Eugene) also voted against the bill.

Oregon biggest business interests have been in favor of the bill. Nike hosted Obama in May for a speech touting the TPP. Labor groups protested the president’s visit, arguing that the trade proposal is bad for workers.