Pelosi comes out against fast track bill

The House’s top Democrat said Wednesday she is opposed to trade promotion authority (TPA) legislation introduced last month by a trio of lawmakers.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) said Wednesday that she doesn’t support a measure authored by two Republicans and former Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus that would provide President Obama with ramped up powers to help smooth the passage of trade deals. 

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Pelosi made clear on Wednesday night that she isn’t opposed to the concept of TPA, also known as fast-track authority, but she can’t support a bill introduced by Baucus, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and Senate Finance Committee ranking member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).

Baucus was confirmed as U.S. ambassador to China last week and has left the Senate. 

At the Democratic retreat Wednesday night, Pelosi clarified that her remarks from earlier Wednesday were directed at the Camp-Baucus-Hatch bill introduced in January, and were not a rejection of Obama’s trade agenda.

“We weren't talking about President Obama's trade initiative,” she told reporters. 

“We were talking about Camp-Baucus, and I said then that Camp-Baucus, in its present form, is unacceptable to me.”

Democrats have come out en masse against the measure.

Obama will address Democrats on Friday at their three-day retreat on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. 

Pelosi said trade is extremely important to Democrats  and it should get some attention at the retreat. 

“We're the party of free trade, fair trade, and we believe that the global economy is here to stay, and we're part of it,” she said. 

She argued that the tax code has to be changed to reward businesses that create jobs in the United States instead of sending jobs overseas.

“As Mr. Van Hollen said, we want to export products overseas, not transport jobs overseas.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Pelosi told a group of labor leaders and environmentalists that supporting the Camp-Baucus—Hatch bill was “out of the question.” 

Newly tapped Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has indicated that he is in no hurry to take up the Camp-Baucus-Hatch bill and instead will talk to lawmakers about how they want to proceed.

It seems clear that the committee will work up new legislation that would provide an updated strategy that considers the complexities of global trade, which have changed dramatically since the last bill was passed in 2002. 

That measure expired in 2007. 

Last month, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced his opposition to the measure. 

Reid has opposed trade deals in the past so his opposition to fast-track wasn’t a surprise to the White House.

Still, it is a hurdle the White House will need to scale.  

Republicans have said that Obama will have to work with Democrats if he wants to get fast-track authority through Congress. 

The White House has an aggressive and ambitious trade agenda that includes the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and a U.S.-European Union deal in the works.