Tags: Ted Cruz | Ted Cruz | conservatives | voted | no | TPA | trade deal

Ted Cruz Slams Trade Vote for Including 'Back-Room, Washington Deals'

By    |   Wednesday, 24 June 2015 08:12 PM

The Senate voted Wednesday to give President Barack Obama authority to negotiate trade agreements with foreign countries — but Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was among five Republicans who bitterly opposed the legislation.

"I'm a big supporter of free trade," the 2016 Republican presidential candidate told Bret Baier on Fox News. "I campaigned in support of free trade."

He said he voted last month in support of giving Obama the authority, but "two things have changed since that first vote."

Cruz said one included a portion of the law that "explicitly contemplates changing immigration laws of member countries.

"Over and over again, we'd been assured there were no changes in immigration laws," the senator said.

The second was a series of what Cruz called "back-room Washington deals that were cut on the Export-Import bank."

The Export-Import Bank is a little-known federal agency created during the Depression that makes and guarantees loans to help overseas buyers purchase a wide range of U.S. products. The 81-year-old bank was expected to go out of business at the end of this month.

Conservative Republicans and other groups have denounced the bank as crony capitalism and have vowed to get rid of it.

Cruz said that the bank's existence is now guaranteed under the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation passed by the Senate.

"The Export-Import Bank is a classic example of corporate welfare," he told Fox. "And it appears now that leadership cut a deal to reauthorize this cronyism: hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer dollars on the line to help giant corporations as the price for TPA.

"And the two together were too much," he said. "So, I voted no."

In a move that revived President Obama's trade agenda after Democrats handed him a stunning embarrassment last week, the Senate voted 60-38 to grant the president the authority to negotiate the foreign trade deals.

Called "fast track," the legislation would only give Congress the option to ratify or reject such agreements — but not change them.

The bill now goes to Obama's desk for his signature, probably within two weeks. He is expected to use the authority quickly to complete a 12-nation deal with Pacific nations.

A companion bill, to renew an expiring program of federal aid for workers disadvantaged by imports, passed by voice vote less than an hour later. Final approval in the House is expected on Thursday.

In the Senate, 47 Republicans and 13 Democrats voted for TPA, while 31 Democrats and two independents joined with the five Republicans to oppose it.

Besides Cruz, the other GOP members voting against the authority were Sens. Susan Collins of Maine; Rand Paul of Kentucky, who also is seeking the White House; and two Alabama senators, Jeff Sessions and Richard Shelby.

Republican Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Marco Rubio of Florida, another member of the 2016 sweepstakes, missed the vote.

The trade bill pitted Obama and two longtime GOP antagonists, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner, against conservative Republicans in both chambers, as well as union-backed Democrats — including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

"We were really pleased to see President Obama pursue an idea we've long believed in," McConnell said after the vote. "We thank him for his efforts to help us pass a bill to advance it."

Obama's victory comes at a critical point in his second term. He is bracing for a Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare, and next week's deadline is approaching for reaching a deal on Iran's nuclear program.

Republicans railed against giving President Obama fast track because foreign trade agreements ship American jobs overseas and over concerns about the secrecy under which such deals would be reached.

Many have slammed the international arbitration panel to be created by the legislation, which would move disputes out of U.S. courts. Republicans also have argued that fast track usurps the Constitution, which requires foreign treaties to be ratified by two-thirds of the Senate.

"I have serious concerns with Congress providing President Obama with fast-track negotiating authority, which is why I voted against TPA for the second time," said Shelby, the Cotton State's senior senator. "I am wary of ceding power to a president who continually abuses his authority, and I believe that there are far too many unanswered questions about the impact of the pending trade deals on American jobs.

"While I support the principle of free trade, I could not support this bill because I lack confidence in this administration’s ability to negotiate a trade deal that will be in the best interest of Alabamians and all Americans," he said.

Sessions, who is in his fourth term, has been most vocal in his opposition to fast track.

"Americans increasingly believe that their country isn’t serving its own citizens," he said after the vote. "They need look no further than a bipartisan vote of Congress that will transfer congressional power to the executive branch and, in turn, to a transnational Pacific union and the global interests who will help write its rules."

Referencing the White House's heavy lobbying in the week since last week's move by Democrats, Sessions said that, "Washington broke arms and heads to get that 60th vote — not one to spare — to impose on the American people a plan that imperils their jobs, wages, and control over their own affairs.

"It is remarkable that so much energy has been expended on advancing the things Americans oppose, and preventing the things Americans want."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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The Senate voted Wednesday to give President Barack Obama authority to negotiate trade agreements with foreign countries - but Texas Sen. Ted Cruz was among five Republicans who bitterly opposed the legislation. I'm a big supporter of free trade, the 2016 Republican...
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Wednesday, 24 June 2015 08:12 PM
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