Labor chief: ‘I’m proud of the work’ done on TPP

Labor Secretary Tom Perez in an interview Sunday touted his work as part of the Obama administration on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) but avoided saying directly whether or not he personally supported the agreement.

“This is what the president tasked me with doing, Chuck, and I was proud to do it,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” with Chuck Todd.

{mosads}”Which is we want to go to school on the mistakes and the lessons of past trade agreements. We want to build a trade regime that, again, the North Star is the American worker, protecting the American worker.”

Perez said the U.S. needs to make sure it has “the strongest protections for the workers that we’ve ever had” when it negotiates with other countries such as Mexico and Vietnam.

“And that’s what we’ve set out to do, and that’s what I believe we have done. The president and [presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary] Clinton have a disagreement on whether TPP has gone that far. This is not the first time in the history of the Democratic Party that there have been differences of opinion,” he said.

“Where they are totally in lockstep is their belief that we have to put the American worker first. And we have to go to school on the lessons of history. And that’s exactly what we’re doing in the work that we’ve been doing on trade.”

Still, Perez dodged pointed questions about whether or not he personally supports the TPP.

He called what the country has done with Mexico and Vietnam some of the “most far-reaching protections that we’ve seen in a labor agreement,” and again reiterated that President Obama and Clinton disagree on whether the agreement is “tough enough.”

But as a party, he said people agree on the importance of putting American workers first and having tough enforcement.

“If we’re going to succeed in protecting American workers, we’ve got to make sure we have tough, enforceable provisions. And that’s what I’ve done,” he said.

“And that’s why I’m proud of the work I’ve done for this president.”
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