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House Dems back alternative trade bill

House Democratic leaders are coalescing around a fast-track alternative they say would address the outstanding issues in a trade deal spanning from Latin America to the Pacific Rim. 

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she will back the trade promotion authority (TPA) option that Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) is planning to offer in the House’s markup of the legislation on Thursday. 

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House Democratic leadership met earlier on Wednesday and decided they will all back Levin’s substitute amendment, according to a Pelosi spokesman.

“The leaders agreed to all support the Levin substitute in an effort to try to improve the TPA bill,” the aide said.

Levin, the House Ways and Means Committee’s ranking member, is staunchly opposed to the fast-track bill backed by the leaders of the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPaul Ryan to host fundraiser for Cheney amid GOP tensions Boehner book jacket teases slams against Cruz, Trump CPAC, all-in for Trump, is not what it used to be MORE (R-Wis.).

He argued the deal would leave Congress without a meaningful role in negotiating the Latin American-Pacific Rim trade deal, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). 

“That is not the way to get TPP right, which I want. It is not the way to get a TPP with broad bipartisan support,” Levin said.

Levin’s bill includes specific negotiating instructions on all of the major outstanding issues in the negotiations.

For example, he calls for Congress to craft stricter enforcement rules for countries deemed to have manipulated their currencies.

His alternative also addresses what needs to be done to bring countries like Vietnam and Mexico into compliance with international labor standards, which he said isn't addressed in the fast-track bill. 

His alternative doesn’t allow for expedited consideration of any trade deals until bipartisan groups of House and Senate advisers determine that the White House followed the instructions. 

Also, Congress would be tasked with writing consultation procedures, including what negotiating texts must be shared with Congress.