A new trade bill is causing infighting among Democrats, with critics saying it could ship U.S. jobs overseas.
report details the bill, called the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It involves 12 countries and is much larger than the Clinton-era North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
On Thursday, top Congressional lawmakers agreed to allow President Barack Obama to negotiate trade deals
for Congress to review, called "fast track" authority. Under "fast track" rules, Congress is not able to amend a bill.
When it comes to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, though, many of Obama's fellow Democrats do not want a repeat of NAFTA, which killed some American manufacturing jobs.
Republicans, writes The New York Times
, are aligning themselves with Obama on the bill, over which the president will have "fast track" authority.
"We can't afford to pass fast track, which would lead to more lost jobs and lower wages," AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka said in the Times story. "We want Congress to keep its leverage over trade negotiations — not rubber-stamp a deal that delivers profits for global corporations, but not good jobs for working people."
Rep. Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat, has been a strong opponent of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, known as the TPP.
"The single biggest economic issue facing American families is that jobs do not pay enough to live on," she said, reports Politico. "Fast tracking the TPP would make it easier for corporations to offshore American jobs and force our workers to compete with those in Vietnam making less than 60 cents an hour."
The Trans-Pacific Partnership was drafted and signed in 2005, but other countries began negotiating for inclusion after that and now 12 are working to come to an agreement that would, according to the Office of the United States Trade Representative
, "boost U.S. economic growth, support American jobs, and grow Made-in-America exports to some of the most dynamic and fastest growing countries in the world.
"As the cornerstone of the Obama administration's economic policy in the Asia Pacific, the Trans-Pacific Partnership reflects the United States' economic priorities and values," the website reads. "The TPP not only seeks to provide new and meaningful market access for American goods and services exports, but also set high-standard rules for trade, and address vital 21st-century issues within the global economy."
The 12 nations currently negotiating are United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
"My top priority in any trade negotiation is expanding opportunity for hardworking Americans," Obama said in a statement
released by the White House on Thursday. "It's no secret that past trade deals haven't always lived up to their promise, and that's why I will only sign my name to an agreement that helps ordinary Americans get ahead."
Still, many Democrats are not on the president's side when it comes to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Politico reports that 10 House Democrats, most belonging to the New Democrat Coalition, support the legislation.
"Over and over again we've been told that trade deals will create jobs and better protect workers and the environment," Democratic Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania said, according to the Times. "Those promises have never come to fruition."
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