Aug 14, 2014
Even as an overwhelming majority of the Democratic Caucus has left no doubt they staunchly oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal currently under negotiation, Congressional Republicans are also saying there are parts of the proposed deal that don't work for them, either.
Among the flurry of letters that members of Congress fired off before leaving town for recess, a couple have to be especially worrying for the proponents of TPP.
The first letter, written July 29, is signed by a bi-partisan group of 35 House members, including such stalwart Republicans as Frank R. Wolf of Virginia, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, Walter B. Jones, Jr. of North Carolina, and New York's Peter King.
They were objecting to the inclusion of Vietnam – with that country's horrendous human rights record, among other faults – in the trade deal.
They cite the International Federation of Human Rights which says: "Vietnam has the highest number of political prisoners in Southeast Asia. It is estimated there are at least 212 dissidents behind bars, and many more under house arrest."
Another group, this time 14 Republicans, sent the president a letter two days later. They wanted the president to know that any trade deal that tramples the Buy American Act of 1933, which insists U.S. government procurement must prefer American made products, won't get by them.
Fast Track means an up or down vote on a TPP deal without amendments of its component parts. Democrats weren't having that but it is also problematic for some Republicans. As far back as November 2013, Rep. Jones wrote the president a letter signed by 23 Republicans saying they won't Fast Track TPP.
"[W]e do not agree to cede our constitutional authority to the executive through an approval of a request for Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority," they wrote.
Additionally, Reps. Devin Nunes (R-CA) and Charlie Rangel (D-NY) wrote to urge the President to oppose Japan's efforts to keep high tariffs on U.S. agricultural products and restrict access for American agricultural interests seeking greater access for U.S. farm products in the Japanese market.
For those keeping count, that's a lot of Republicans. Add them to the wall of opposition by Democrats, and the TPP, as now negotiated, may face real challenges on arrival in Washington, D.C., due in no small part to the thousands of CWA activists educating and mobilizing on TPP.
This widespread opposition highlights just how much of a threat TPP poses to the American economy. Trade policies should enhance the viability of U.S. companies, benefit U.S. workers, and strengthen the U.S. economy. TPP doesn't.