Another Dem comes out for Obama's trade agenda

Another Dem comes out for Obama's trade agenda

Rep. Ami BeraAmerish (Ami) Babulal BeraOvernight Defense: Trump cancels presser, cuts short NATO trip | Viral video catches leaders appearing to gossip about Trump | Dem witnesses say Trump committed impeachable offenses | Trump reportedly mulling more troops in Middle East Pelosi to Democrats: 'Are you ready?' California Rep. Bera touts Biden's health care plan in 2020 endorsement MORE has emerged as the latest Democratic supporter of President Obama's controversial trade agenda.

ADVERTISEMENT

The sophomore California lawmaker said this weekend that granting Obama new powers to negotiate such deals — particularly a 12-nation accord with Asian-Pacific countries — will put United States workers in a better position to compete in the global economy.

"With more than 95 percent of the world’s population outside the United States, economic growth and jobs for the region and America will increasingly depend on expanding U.S. trade and investment opportunities in the global marketplace," Bera, a top GOP target this election cycle, wrote in a Sacramento Bee op-ed.

"A good Trans-Pacific Partnership [TPP] would level the playing field and make it easier to sell made-in-America goods and services in some of the fastest-growing markets in the world, support homegrown jobs and economic growth, and protect workers and the environment."

Behind Obama, the White House is lobbying hard to win congressional support for new trade-promotion authority (TPA), targeting on-the-fence centrist Democrats in particular.

On Thursday, the president hosted a two-hour meeting at the White House with members of the New Democrats, a centrist group that's been much more open to trade deals than most Democrats in the liberal-leaning caucus.

It's been tough to pinpoint a number of Democratic supporters — many have kept their powder dry through the debate — but experts on and off Capitol Hill put the number somewhere between 15 and 30.

The TPA bill is widely viewed as a necessary tool if Obama hopes to secure the TPP and the other international trade deals that are among the highest priorities of his second term.

A bipartisan TPA proposal has passed through committees in both the Senate and House. But House GOP leaders are struggling to find the votes to pass the measure on the chamber floor in the face of conservatives wary of granting Obama new powers.

The strange dynamics have led to plenty of partisan finger-pointing, with GOP leaders calling on the president to step up his efforts to rally Democrats behind the bill, and the White House firing back with questions about why the Republicans, who control their congressional greatest majority since the Great Depression, can't find 218 votes on an issue they've historically championed.

Liberal Democrats, meanwhile, have minced no words in criticizing the TPA bill. Citing false promises surrounding the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, the liberal critics say the proposal does too little to address a laundry list of concerns on issues as diverse as worker rights, food safety, the environment, currency manipulation and the erosion of U.S. jobs.

Bera conceded that the critics have good reason to be wary. But he said he's convinced the TPA bill offers enough safeguards against those concerns to earn his support.

"A good [TPP] deal must first and foremost support high-quality American jobs, grow our middle class and help us sell more of our goods in markets abroad," he wrote. "A good deal must also fix the problems we’ve seen in past agreements that have many people concerned about new ones, including protecting workers and the environment.

"In the Trade Promotion Authority, Congress has laid out specific parameters that I believe, done right, can lead us to that good deal."