House lawmakers express concern about TPP auto provision

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers is worried that proposed rule of origin standards on autos in a Pacific trade deal will hurt the U.S. industry.

Reps. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) and Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) on Thursday led a bipartisan group of 20 Democrats and one Republican — all who opposed fast-track authority for President Obama — calling on top U.S. trade officials to ensure that the United States doesn’t lower tariffs until Japan more fully opens its market to imports as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal. 

In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael FromanMichael B.G. FromanUS will investigate aluminum imports as national security hazard Overnight Finance: WH floats Mexican import tax | Exporters move to back GOP tax proposal | Dems rip Trump adviser's Goldman Sachs payout Froman heads to Council on Foreign Relations MORE, the lawmakers said that an effort to set a 45 percent rule of origin standard for vehicles manufactured in TPP nations would allow Japan "to continue with an undisrupted supply chain that could have a disastrous impact on the U.S. supply chain and resulting loss of American jobs in the years ahead." 

The lawmakers wrote that Japan uses parts produced in non-TPP countries, which could lead to nations like China gaining a global advantage. 

"Strong rules of origin prevent products, especially auto parts, mostly made in China and other non-TPP nations, from getting privileged access to the U.S. marketplace," they wrote.

Rules of origin limit the percentage of a product that can be made up of parts from non-TPP nations. Any products that exceed a cap wouldn't get special market access under the TPP.

They want the TPP to increase the rules of origin standards above that of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and include a tariff phase-out period on Japanese cars, trucks and parts.

Negotiations with Japan on autos continue during TPP talks in Atlanta this week between the United States and 11 other nations.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said if the 45 percent has been agreed to it “is very alarming.”

“This approach, if agreed to by the negotiators, could put in jeopardy the support of both Democrats and Republicans from auto producing states who were expected to support this agreement’s passage," she said. 

Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownLawmaker interest in NAFTA intensifies amid Trump moves Dem senator shares photo praising LeBron James after Laura Ingraham attacks Trump gets recommendation for steep curbs on imported steel, risking trade war MORE (D-Ohio) on Thursday also expressed concern.

“When President Obama committed to renegotiating NAFTA, I never imagined he would negotiate a trade agreement that is worse for American workers," Brown said.

He said that a lower standard "would result in a flood of unfair imports, would offshore jobs and would hurt American workers and manufacturers," he said.

"I strongly oppose this provision and will work to defeat TPP if it remains in the final agreement.”

The U.S. auto industry supports 7.25 million jobs, including 1.55 million Americans employed directly by automakers. 

Other signers of the letter were: Reps. Alan GraysonAlan Mark GraysonPolitiFact cancels Alan Grayson hire after backlash Eighth Franken accuser comes forward as Dems call for resignation Pennsylania Dems file ethics complaint against Rep. Barletta MORE (D-Fla.), Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.), Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), DeLauro, Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), Gene GreenRaymond (Gene) Eugene GreenEleven lawmakers have used campaign funds to pay NRA dues: report Dems demand answers from Trump admin about family planning program Lawmakers say they're close to deal on CHIP funding MORE (D-Texas), André Carson (D-Ind.), Mark PocanMark William PocanDem criticizes Trump for ‘thumbs-up’ in Florida House Dem opposition mounts to budget deal This week: Trump delivers State of the Union amid immigration fight MORE (D-Wis.), Donna Edwards (D-Md.), John YarmuthJohn Allen YarmuthCiting deficits, House GOP to take aim at entitlements Dems tee off on Trump budget House Dem opposition mounts to budget deal MORE (D-Ky.), Robert AderholtRobert Brown AderholtOvernight Finance: House Appropriations chair to retire | Exit sets off fight for gavel | GOP banks on tax cuts to help in midterms | Crypto exchange under scrutiny after theft | Conservatives push Trump on capital gains taxes House retirement sets off scramble for coveted chairmanship The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (R-Ala.), John Conyers (D-Mich.), Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Rubén Hinojosa (D-Texas), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).