Vulnerable GOP senator comes out against TPP

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) announced Wednesday that he will oppose President Obama’s landmark Pacific Rim trade agreement, saying the Trans-Pacific Partnership "falls short." 

"In the TPP, the Obama administration has not gotten a good enough deal for Pennsylvania workers," Toomey wrote in a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette op-ed. "As it now stands, TPP is not a good deal for Pennsylvania." 
 
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While stressing he is still broadly pro-trade, Toomey called on the Obama administration to "dump the TPP and return to the negotiating table."
 
Democrats quickly slammed the GOP senator, arguing that he "flip-flopped" because he supported fast-track trade legislation, known as trade promotion authority, last year. The law gives trade deals a quicker path to approval by not allowing Congress to amend them.
 
Katie McGinty, his Democratic opponent who also opposes the TPP, said Toomey is coming out against the trade agreement "now that his reelection is at risk." 
 
"Pat Toomey has spent his entire career pushing bad trade deals and policies that ship Americans jobs overseas, so nobody is buying this ridiculous flip-flop," she said. "He's willing to try to fool Pennsylvanians and claim he's looking out for us. Sorry, Sen. Toomey, but we're not buying it."
 
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) said separately that Toomey has hit "the panic button."
 
“Sen. Toomey’s announcement is nothing more than a desperate election-year stunt by a politician who is increasingly worried about his own political career,” said Lauren Passalacqua, a spokeswoman for the DSCC. "Pennsylvanians will see through Toomey’s panicked reversal as the political posturing it is."
 
Republicans have accused McGinty of an about-face on trade, noting she helped promote the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) under the Clinton administration. 

McGinty has said the '90s trade deal didn't work, but told union members in Philadelphia earlier this year that at the time, "people were telling us the way to win market share is through trade deals. But the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result."

Toomey's decision puts him at odds with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which backs the agreement and began airing ads in support of the GOP senator in mid-2015.
 
Republicans are defending 24 Senate seats in November, including a handful in states previously carried by President Obama. McGinty is narrowly leading Toomey in the polls, according to RealClearPolitics. 
 

Toomey announced his position less than a week after the Obama administration sent lawmakers a draft document outlining what changes to U.S. law would be needed under the agreement. The document, required by the fast-track measure, allows Obama an implementing bill to lawmakers after 30 days.  

But momentum behind the trade deal, a signature of Obama's second term, has stalled in Congress and drawn opposition from both major party presidential candidates.

The trade agreement has also divided Toomey's home state. Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto is opposed to the deal, arguing it would be a death sentence for the steel industry. But former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter supports it. 

Toomey, in his op-ed, argued that the trade agreement would undermine the state's life science and pharmaceutical sectors and the state's roughly 7,000 dairy farms. 

"I have brought these and other problems to the attention of the Obama trade negotiators, but regrettably, they have failed to address them," he added.

Updated 1:43 p.m.