March 1, 2015

Key Senate Democrat Calls Hearing On Trans-Pacific Partnership “Premature”

While President Barack Obama took to the airwaves last week to promote the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement and his trade policies, a key Senate Democrat sounded like he is ready to mount a significant opposition to the president’s trade agenda. 

U.S. Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) called a hearing his panel had last week on Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) “premature” because “there is no agreement on Trade Promotion Authority, or other aspects of the legislative trade agenda more broadly.” A spokesman for the senator promised Wyden would continue “to fight for more transparency, more oversight and provisions to ensure American workers come first in our trade policy.” Congressional Quarterly (subscription required) said the senator’s position reveals the “especially complicated position for Democrats” on trade. 

Meanwhile, in his remarks to local media stations, President Obama emphasized the need to have strong labor and environmental protections in the deal, but did not say the same thing about currency manipulation. According to The Associated Press, in one local interview President Obama said, “There have been times in the past where some of the trade deals didn’t work out for particular sectors in particular communities. Which is why we’re organizing trade in the Asia Pacific region, the fastest growing region in the world, to make sure you have strong enforceable labor provisions, make sure you have strong enforceable environmental provisions, make sure you have a level playing field.” 

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry also lobbied for the TPP and TPA at the Senate Finance Committee meeting last week.