WASHINGTON — A top Obama administration official teamed up with a Democratic lawmaker Monday to push for ratification of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement.
Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker defended the agreement, arguing it will result in “more jobs for American workers.” But it faces broad bipartisan opposition on Capitol Hill and also on the presidential campaign trail. Both Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton, set for their first debate Monday night, have criticized the deal.
Pritzker warned that “if we cannot cross the finish line with the TPP the other 11 countries we negotiated with will be forced to rethink their faith in U.S. leadership.”
The agreement, reached by the administration, aims to boost trade by cutting back tariffs and addressing obstacles among the U.S. and the Pacific Rim nations, including Singapore and New Zealand. The agreement does not include China.
“Simply put, the TPP will allow us to shape the rules of the global economy, to advance our economic strengths and values while protecting American companies from unfair trade,” Pritzker said. “We cannot let this opportunity pass us by.”
The trade agreement has faced sharp criticism from both major parties and has transformed into a rallying cry for working class voters who view it as a way to export jobs overseas.
A new analysis released today by the nonpartisan think tank Information Technology and Innovation Foundation concludes that the majority of criticisms of the TPP “are misguided, overstated, or just plain wrong.”
Even so, legislation approving the deal is unlikely to pass Congress before the election and even key supporters are skeptical that it will pass before the next administration takes over in January. Vice President Joe Biden last week said to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York it will likely not clear Congress “but there is a genuine chance.”
Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., didn’t mention trade deal critic Donald Trump by name, but said a certain candidate has “clearly done a good job about reaching out to disaffected Americans.”
Last summer, Beyer voted along with 27 other pro-trade Democrats in the House to approve fast-track authority for the Obama Administration, requiring Congress to vote up or down on the deal, without adding amendments.