NFTC Doles Out 'F' and 'D' Grades on Trade

Rising protectionism has been a fear of business for years, and the fears seem borne out by the grades a major trade group has announced today of members of Congress.

Five freshmen senators, including four Democrats and Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders (Vt.), received "F" grades from the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC), which represents hundreds of U.S. companies.

Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) were given "F" marks by the group, and four other freshmen got "D" grades. They included a Republican, Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.).

The NFTC noted that it didn't have many votes on which to score lawmakers. A controversial trade deal with Colombia is hung up in a dispute between the White House and Democrats in Congress, and deals with Panama and South Korea have also been stalled. The stalemate over Colombia wasn't included in the NFTC's grading system.

The group did consider votes in 2007 on a trade deal with Peru, which was approved, and a Senate vote on a comprehensive immigration bill, which failed to win the 60 votes necessary to clear a Senate rule moving it forward. It also included a vote last month on a deal involving nuclear trade between the U.S. and India.

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Barack Obama (D-Ill.), their party's presidential candidates, were not scored because they did not cast enough votes on the measures monitored by NFTC.

-Ian Swanson