House Democrats call TPP ‘too big’ to pass Congress

Getty Images

A half dozen House Democrats asserted on Wednesday that opposition is growing for a sweeping Asia-Pacific trade agreement as the White House ramps up efforts to build support for the deal.

The six Democrats — Reps. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.), Louise Slaughter (N.Y.), Marcy Kaptur (Ohio), Nydia Velázquez (N.Y.), Mark Pocan (Wis.) and Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii) — said the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal is “too big” to pass Congress and must be scrapped.

{mosads}The Democrats, who have long opposed the expansive deal, said the more than 5,000-page agreement, which they carted out in front of the Capitol by hand truck for a press conference, is a big giveaway to multi-national corporations and will have devastating effects on the U.S. economy, jobs and wages.

DeLauro called on lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to vote down the TPP and “start anew” but with much more input from Congress.

Pocan contended that there is growing opposition on Capitol Hill among those who supported trade promotion authority (TPA), or fast-track, legislation his summer.

A clearer picture of whether the trade deal can get through Congress — the fate of the deal likely hinges on getting enough support in the House — should develop over the next weeks and months as congressional lawmakers and stakeholder groups examine the details of the agreement. 

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) noted on Wednesday the importance of the trade agreement in his vision for the panel, which he took over recently after Ryan moved into the speaker’s office.  

Brady said he intends to “exceed the standards” set by the fast-track law in openly assessing the deal.

“Our members in both parties have real concerns about provisions,” he told The Hill. “So we’re going to give them the opportunity to voice those concerns to USTR and the White House.”

“Right now, USTR needs to deal with the concerns of members in both parties and engage with them and me to try to address those concerns,” he said.

On Tuesday, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who guided fast-track through the House this summer, expressed concern about the shorter-than-hoped protections for biologic medicines during remarks at the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council meeting.

Ryan said he hasn’t made up his mind on whether he will support or oppose the deal because he hasn’t read the agreement yet.

But he said the decision would hinge on whether Republicans are satisfied with the details of the deal.

“Getting it right matters,” Ryan said. “TPP has great potential, but we want to scrub this trade agreement to make sure that it reaches and meets the standard that we call for in TPA.”

As far as a vote, Ryan said one happen next year but “I don’t know when that will be.”

There is push for early next year but a vote could easily get moved to the lame-duck session after the 2016 elections.

DeLauro said she is “encouraged” that there hasn’t been a flood of support for the agreement since the TPP text was released on Nov. 5. 

“No one is rushing to judgment because they are just as wary and fearful as we are,” she said.

Since the release of the text, many House Democrats and labor unions such as the AFL-CIO have all confirmed their opposition to the trade agreement, calling it much worse than expected.

President Obama, his trade team and the bulk of this Cabinet are canvassing Congress, stakeholders and the public, touting the benefits of the massive deal. 

Obama said that the TPP is “the highest standard and most progressive trade deal ever concluded” and said that the pact “is at the heart of our shared vision for the future of this dynamic region,” during a TPP meeting in the Philippines on Wednesday. 

He acknowledged that the politics of any trade agreement are difficult but TPP leaders “we’re going to discuss the road ahead to ensure that TPP is enacted in each of our countries as swiftly as possible.”  

“Obviously, execution is critical after we have arrived at the text,” he said. 

Amid questions about support for the TPP, Steven Kandarian, CEO of MetLife, announced on Wednesday that the company support the pact giving the Obama administration a strong ally in the battle for votes.

“After analyzing the text of the TPP, MetLife will support the agreement and seek congressional support for its ratification,” Kandarian said in a statement.

Kandarian said that the deal makes meaningful progress on market access, levels the playing field, eases cross-border data flows and improves regulatory transparency. 

“We are confident that ratification of the TPP will lead to faster economic growth, greater choice and lower costs for consumers in the markets where we do business, and more high-paying jobs in the U.S.,” he said. 

“The agreement is not perfect — no trade deal is —  but on balance the TPP represents a significant step in the right direction and deserves to be ratified.”

MetLife has operations in eight of the 12 countries represented in the TPP: Australia, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Vietnam, Singapore and the United States. 

TPP also includes: Brunei Darussalam, Canada, New Zealand and Peru, which together account for nearly 40 percent of global growth. 

Tags Kevin Brady Kevin Brady Mark Pocan Paul Ryan Paul Ryan President Obama Trans-Pacific Partnership Tulsi Gabbard

Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video