Sanders' campaign challenges Clinton on trade

Sanders' campaign challenges Clinton on trade
© Greg Nash

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersFive takeaways from Pruitt's EPA hearing Overnight Energy: Trump's EPA pick faces Congress | 2016 is hottest year on record Five takeaways from Price's confirmation hearing MORE' presidential campaign challenged Democratic rival Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonHillary Clinton tweets well-wishes to Bushes Chelsea Clinton: We must keep fighting Ryan, Bannon strike surprising truce MORE to take a stronger stance against trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Ahead of Saturday’s South Carolina primary and an upcoming contest in manufacturing heavy Ohio, the Sanders' campaign touted the senator's consistent policy record opposing trade agreements, including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which was passed in 1994 under former President Clinton. 

“If Secretary Clinton really wanted to stop the loss of manufacturing jobs in Ohio she should have joined Sen. Sanders in opposing the North American Free Trade Agreement and permanent normal trade relations with China,” said Warren Gunnels, Sanders’ policy director, in a press release.

The campaign noted that Sanders strongly opposed President Obama's push for trade promotion authority that will allow trade deals to move through Congress on an up-or-down vote without the chance for lawmakers to offer amendments.

“Bernie has always understood that fast-tracking these disastrous trade deals would pave the way for more lost jobs, more lost factories and more pain for the middle class," Gunnels said.

If elected president, the Sanders campaign said he would set a high standard for trade deals, vowing to block any agreement that would send U.S. jobs overseas, push up prescription drug prices, overturn U.S. financial laws, or include countries like Malaysia, Vietnam or Brunei over the treatment of workers and various human rights issues.

“We challenge Secretary Clinton to make those same commitments,” Gunnels said. “Our goal must be to make sure that American-made products, not American jobs, are our number one export.”

Shortly after the TPP was completed in early October, Clinton publicly opposed the TPP deal after advocating for the agreement while she was secretary of State. 

Earlier this week, Clinton outlined her plans for expanding trade, arguing that raising standards for global agreements is the only way to ensure that the United States sees the benefits.

“We have to set a high bar for any new trade agreements, and only support them if they will create good jobs, raise wages and advance our national security,” she wrote in an op-ed in Maine’s Portland Press Herald.

Clinton said she opposed the TPP “when it failed to meet those tests, and would oppose future agreements if they failed to meet that bar.”

Last week, Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.), who announced he is opposing TPP as negotiated, said he would trust Clinton to make changes if she wins the White House.

“I would have confidence in how she would address these trade issues,” he said.

President Obama and his Cabinet are calling for Congress to pass the TPP this year before he leaves office.

Congressional leaders have said that the trade agreement won’t likely be considered until after the November elections.