Fast-Track Bill Revived–but Local Dems Again Vote Against Obama
The U.S. House today once again passed a revived version of "fast track" trade negotiation authority that is much desired by big local exporters like Boeing, Caterpillar, ADM and Abbott Labs.
But, once again, every Illinois Democrat but one, Chicagoan Mike Quigley, voted against it, even though getting approval of a pending trade deal with Asian countries is one of President Barack Obama's top priorities in what remains of his second term. The measure has drawn widespread opposition from organized labor.
The measure that cleared the House by a 218-208 vote does not include a proposal by Senate Democrats to give financial assistance to U.S. workers who lose their jobs because of imports. But in a bit of legislative finagling, GOP leaders have assured Democrats that, if the Senate now passes a "clean" version of fast track, a separate measure adopting the aid provisions will pass—even if Democrats who normally favor such a measure again vote no in an effort to kill fast track.
Notably voting against fast track today was Rep. Tammy Duckworth of Hoffman Estates, who is the leading candidate for the Democratic nomination to oppose Republican Sen. Mark Kirk next fall. She has said the bill lacks needed provisions, such as limits on currency manipulation. But others disagree, and her position at a minimum puts her at odds with Obama.
All other Democrats in the state's delegation voted no, and all Republicans but downstate's Rodney Davis voted yes. Davis did not vote.
Said Chicago Democrat Dan Lipinski, "The House—made up of men and women that have been elected by the American people to represent them—has voluntarily decided to give away their constitutional authority on trade, increasing the likelihood of another trade agreement like Nafta or the Korea Free Trade Agreement that destroys American jobs."
But Rep. Bob Dold, a Kenilworth Republican, termed the bill, which would mandate a single up-or-down vote on any negotiated trade pacts, "a common-sense agenda that fosters job creation in today's global economy." With 96 percent of the world's consumers living outside the U.S., "new trade opportunities help our local manufacturers reach these customers so they can expand their business and create more American jobs," he said.
The other leading candidate for the Democratic nomination against Kirk, former Chicago Urban League chief Andrea Zopp, released a statement opposing fast track, too.
"While I'm very much in favor of international trade and supportive of President Obama's efforts, I also understand the desire and need for debate on the substance of the bill—and its amendment to ensure protection of both U.S. workers and companies," she said. "I would have sided with those who voted against fast track so that our elected leaders can have—and the nation can hear—a transparent discussion of its benefits."
I'd love to know Bill Daley's take on that. The former U.S. commerce secretary led the battle under Bill Clinton to get Nafta through. Now Daley is a big, big Zopp backer.
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