Two House Democrats signal solidarity with Obama in trade fight

Two House Democrats on Wednesday signaled a willingness to side with the White House in the trade fight that is splintering their party.

Reps. Ron KindRonald (Ron) James KindHouse panel approves bills on tax extenders, expanding tax credits SECURE Act will give Main Street workers needed security Dems walk Trump trade tightrope MORE (Wis.) and Brad Ashford (Neb.) argued that their states will benefit from expanded trade and the passage of trade promotion authority (TPA) legislation that will smooth approval of trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

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Kind, who is chairman of the New Democrat Coalition, said that while “some past trade agreements have not lived up to their expectations,” the United States needs “a proactive, aggressive trade agenda that’s going to work for American workers, our businesses and our farmers.”

“That is why my colleagues in the New Democrat Coalition and I have been actively engaged in negotiations to make trade promotion authority a tool to ensure the next round of trade agreements America joins are not only free, but fair as well,” he said in an op-ed in the Wisconsin State Journal.

Kind has said he is withholding full support for TPA, also known as fast-track authority, until he sees the text of the Senate bill that could be introduced as early as next week.

Meanwhile, during a trade event in Nebraska, Ashford said, “I stand, and I think most of my fellow Nebraskans stand, behind the TPP process and TPA process.”

“It’s so incredibly important to continue the efforts by my colleagues in the Congress, by this administration to continue the really incredible growth of trade out of the state of Nebraska, especially beef,” he said.

Ashford, who has urged lawmakers to work across the party line on major objectives, made the remarks at a press conference with U.S. Trade Representative Michael FromanMichael B.G. FromanOn The Money: Sanders unveils plan to wipe .6T in student debt | How Sanders plan plays in rivalry with Warren | Treasury watchdog to probe delay of Harriet Tubman bills | Trump says Fed 'blew it' on rate decision Democrats give Trump trade chief high marks US trade rep spent nearly M to furnish offices: report MORE announcing a World Trade Organization dispute with Indonesia.

“A major component of Nebraska’s future economic growth will depend on access to foreign markets,” Ashford said.  

“When done responsibly by protecting American jobs, greater market access for Nebraska-produced goods will lead to job growth at home, and can further foster an environment in which our producers will be more competitive in the global marketplace," he said.

Democrats remain deeply divided on trade, with some arguing that past agreements caused jobs losses and economic slowdowns.

Liberal House Democrats — along with labor unions and some environmental and faith groups — have said they have enough support to deny the “fast-track” authority that President Obama wants for the Asia-Pacific agreement.

That has left the administration seeking support from centrist Democrats such as Kind, who in the op-ed said that more than 20 percent of all Wisconsin jobs are linked to exports.

“New trade agreements can open the door for more American workers to grow their paychecks, but in order to do so, they must reflect another core principle of [Franklin] Roosevelt’s: The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little,” Kind wrote.

In Nebraska, Ashford and Froman visited a soybean farm, the state’s largest export crop.

In 2013, Nebraska sold $1.6 billion in soybeans to other countries. Last year, the state exported nearly $8 billion of goods abroad.