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House lawmakers express concern about TPP auto provision

A bipartisan group of House lawmakers is worried that proposed rule of origin standards on autos in a Pacific trade deal will hurt the U.S. industry.

Reps. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) and Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) on Thursday led a bipartisan group of 20 Democrats and one Republican — all who opposed fast-track authority for President Obama — calling on top U.S. trade officials to ensure that the United States doesn’t lower tariffs until Japan more fully opens its market to imports as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal. 

In a letter to 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, the lawmakers said that an effort to set a 45 percent rule of origin standard for vehicles manufactured in TPP nations would allow Japan "to continue with an undisrupted supply chain that could have a disastrous impact on the U.S. supply chain and resulting loss of American jobs in the years ahead." 

The lawmakers wrote that Japan uses parts produced in non-TPP countries, which could lead to nations like China gaining a global advantage. 

"Strong rules of origin prevent products, especially auto parts, mostly made in China and other non-TPP nations, from getting privileged access to the U.S. marketplace," they wrote.

Rules of origin limit the percentage of a product that can be made up of parts from non-TPP nations. Any products that exceed a cap wouldn't get special market access under the TPP.

They want the TPP to increase the rules of origin standards above that of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and include a tariff phase-out period on Japanese cars, trucks and parts.

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Negotiations with Japan on autos continue during TPP talks in Atlanta this week between the United States and 11 other nations.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said if the 45 percent has been agreed to it “is very alarming.”

“This approach, if agreed to by the negotiators, could put in jeopardy the support of both Democrats and Republicans from auto producing states who were expected to support this agreement’s passage," she said. 

Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownDemocrats: Minimum wage isn't the only issue facing parliamentarian Menendez reintroduces corporate diversity bill Former Ohio GOP chairwoman Jane Timken launches Senate bid MORE (D-Ohio) on Thursday also expressed concern.

“When President Obama committed to renegotiating NAFTA, I never imagined he would negotiate a trade agreement that is worse for American workers," Brown said.

He said that a lower standard "would result in a flood of unfair imports, would offshore jobs and would hurt American workers and manufacturers," he said.

"I strongly oppose this provision and will work to defeat TPP if it remains in the final agreement.”

The U.S. auto industry supports 7.25 million jobs, including 1.55 million Americans employed directly by automakers. 

Other signers of the letter were: Reps. Alan GraysonAlan Mark GraysonFlorida's Darren Soto fends off Dem challenge from Alan Grayson Live results: Arizona and Florida hold primaries The Hill's Morning Report: Frustration mounts as Republicans blow up tax message MORE (D-Fla.), Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.), Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), DeLauro, Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), Gene GreenRaymond (Gene) Eugene GreenBottom line Texas New Members 2019 Two Democrats become first Texas Latinas to serve in Congress MORE (D-Texas), André Carson (D-Ind.), Mark PocanMark William PocanSenate Democrats likely to face key test of unity on 2022 budget Democrats blast Facebook over anti-vaccine pages Watch Out: Progressives are eyeing the last slice of the budget MORE (D-Wis.), Donna Edwards (D-Md.), John YarmuthJohn Allen YarmuthHouse Democrats pass sweeping .9T COVID-19 relief bill with minimum wage hike House set for tight vote on COVID-19 relief package Budget Committee chair pledges to raise minimum wage: 'Hold me to it' MORE (D-Ky.), Robert AderholtRobert Brown AderholtMo Brooks expresses interest in running for Shelby's Senate seat Shelby won't run for reelection Will Biden continue NASA's Artemis program to return to the moon? MORE (R-Ala.), John Conyers (D-Mich.), Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Rubén Hinojosa (D-Texas), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.).