Six Members of Congress Withdraw Support for TPP - The Kicker? They're Republicans
The Democratic Party refused to put in a plank in its platform opposing the TPP, a free trade agreement President Obama is desperate to pass this year. Bernie Sanders and (technically) Hillary Clinton both oppose it. Nonetheless, Obama's been pushing hard for its passage today at a press conferences with the President of Singapore.
Now in a surprise move (or perhaps not that surprising, all things considered) six members of the House of Representatives have withdrawn support for passage of the TPP this year, before the election or in a Lame Duck session of Congress. None of them are members of the President's party. They are all Republicans.
President Obama's renewed pitch for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on Tuesday ran into blunt reality when six House Republicans urged him not to send the trade accord to Congress for a vote this year.
The request, made in a letter to the White House, represents another potentially serious blow to the president's trade agenda, whose prospects have dimmed in an election year. All six GOP members had supported legislation last year to give Obama greater trade authority, and their defections would make TPP ratification even more difficult.
The six Republicans House members, all of whom are retiring or face re-election this year, are Rep. Candice Miller (MI), Dave Trott (MI), Bill Shuster (KY), Ed Whitfield (KY) , Tim Murphy (PA),and Ted Yoho (FL). All six supported the President last year by voting for legislation granting him Fast Track Authority to negotiate the TPP and other trade agreements. The basis of their objection at this time to passage of the TPP is that the agreement, as written, does not include anti-currency manipulation provisions.
“I represent Southeast Michigan, a region that has suffered decades of economic devastation due to unfair currency manipulation practices from overseas competitors like Japan, China, and South Korea. During my tenure, I have advocated for strong protections against currency manipulation. ... If this Administration was serious about protecting U.S. manufacturing, then it would have insisted that the Trans-Pacific Partnership have strong currency manipulation protections, which it doesn’t. That’s why I, along with several of my colleagues in the House, am urging President Obama to not force Congress to vote on the trade deal during the upcoming lame duck session. A deal of such magnitude and consequence should be debated and approved by the new Administration and Congress, not outgoing members such as myself." Americans deserve an opportunity to hold our President and their elected representatives in Congress accountable, and forcing this bad deal through a lame duck would deny them that opportunity.” – Rep. Candice Miller (MI-10)
“The TPP trade agreement does not contain the currency manipulation rules needed to protect Michigan families and our manufacturing industry. Like many Americans, I am not convinced that, in its current form, the TPP will do enough to protect Michigan workers and grow our state’s economy. While I believe trade is critical for Michigan jobs, I urge President Obama not to pursue a vote on the TPP during a lame-duck session of Congress. Any attempt to do so will only further erode the American people’s confidence in their government. The president should respect the voters’ choice of a new Chief Executive and allow his successor to work with Congress to negotiate a stronger agreement that puts Michigan workers and businesses first.” –Rep. Dave Trott (MI-11)
Frankly, I don't give a damn as to why these six Republicans suddenly reversed course and now oppose passage of the TPP in a Lame Duck session of Congress. But their "change of heart" is evidence to me that even Republicans witnessed the overwhelming support Bernie Sanders campaign garnered by opposing passage of free trade agreements such as the TPP, that benefit transnational corporations at the expense of small business owners and American workers. People power exists, and this is one example of it. They are now well aware that the mood of many past traditional Democratic and Republican voters is firmly against any further free trade deals that move American jobs overseas and hurt local manufacturers.
For that reason, we all must continue to pressure the "Clinton Wing" of the Democratic Party, and Republicans, as well, in order to force any vote on the TPP into next year, when a new Congress will be in session, and a new President, whether Trump pr Clinton, both of whom are publicly campaigning on their opposition to the TPP (even if they are both likely lying). We must make it known to all candidates running for Congress, regardless of party affiliation, that they will not receive our votes if they support further corporate friendly trade agreements that harm the vast majority of Americans. We must show up at their rallies with our anti-TPP signs and our anti-TPP chants.
Hillary cheated her way to the Democratic nomination, but that does not mean we cannot limit her power should she be elected as our next President. And I believe this is one fight we can win now and going forward, regardless of who becomes President, if we continue our activism and hold politicians accountable to the will of the majority of Americans.