White House Will Need ‘Creative Messaging' On Trade
Democratic opponents of legislation to expedite passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other trade deals said Tuesday that the White House is going to need some creative messaging to get fellow caucus members to support the bill.
“One of the problems in convincing [Democrats] is they’ll have to show that whatever is in this agreement is meaningfully different from what’s in the other agreements that haven’t worked — that’s going to be the problem,” Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) said in a call with reporters.
Scott and other House Democrats participating in the call reiterated their opposition to trade promotion authority legislation just hours before President Barack Obama delivers his State of the Union address, in which he could mention his trade agenda.
Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.), Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.) and Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.) also took part in the call, along with National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson. DeLauro is leading an effort among House Democrats and a broad coalition of organized labor and other left-leaning groups to fight the legislation.
“I believe he generally wants to improve the lives of middle class Americans,” DeLauro said of Obama’s recent efforts on college tuition, health care and paid family leave.
“On this issue, I will oppose the administration because of the devastating impact that the Trans-Pacific Partnership will have on jobs and wages in this country,” she added.
Scott said there will be a whip operation led by DeLauro to drum up opposition to the bill, but “most members will be making up their own minds.”
He said he would be focusing on the TPP’s impact on labor and human rights in his current role as ranking member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. Scott highlighted a recent Government Accountability Office report that found weak monitoring and enforcement of labor provisions in past trade agreements and questioned how the TPP would differ.
Johnson noted the benefits trade has had for agriculture but said his organization is taking a holistic view on trade.
“We think that there needs to be a clear direction given from Congress to every administration saying that the goal of all trade agreements ought to be renegotiated and stated as one of balancing trade instead of simply encouraging more trade,” he said.
The White House is now stepping up its campaign to get as many House Democrats as possible on board with its agenda, knowing that most of the caucus will vote against the legislation, which prevents lawmakers from amending final trade deals and requires them to give the agreements a simple up-or-down vote.
The Cabinet-level push will stress that the administration is fully committed to negotiating trade deals that have enforceable labor and environmental standards, Labor Secretary Tom Perez said in an interview last week.
Lipinski said his Democratic colleagues have received a lot of attention from the White House lately.
“But as we continue to move forward and debate this issue within our caucus and also just in general in the public, we’ll see where this goes and the arguments that the administration is making why these trade agreements are going to be different,” he said.
Lawn Sign Volunteer Contribute Get Updates