Congressman Peter DeFazio has vehemently opposed the Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal from early on, telling EW in January 2014 that the deal was “informed and manipulated by corporate interests” and that if the public knew what was in the classified document, they wouldn’t like it.
While widespread public attention has only really been directed at the trade deal for the past couple months, the TPP has been years in the making. The Electronic Frontier Foundation calls it a “secretive, multinational trade agreement” — the trade talks were all conducted in secret — and the pact is between 12 Pacific Rim countries accounting for almost 40 percent of the global economy.
The Obama White House has said the TPP will generate $123.5 billion a year in U.S. exports by 2025, but the president has been facing opposition from his own party, including DeFazio, in his efforts to get Fast-Track Authority from Congress to finish the deal with little congressional input. DeFazio, who has voted against all free trade agreements, including NAFTA, has said that it is “critical to protect the constitutional prerogatives of Congress under Article I, Section 8, which states that Congress has the sole authority to regulate trade with foreign nations.”
In a recent email to voters from the DeFazio campaign the congressman says, “They dangled a carrot in front of those of us who have been fighting against the ‘Fast Track’ trade promotion authority bill (TPA). It’s called Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), which helps workers who lose their jobs because of these trade deals find other jobs.”
The DeFazio email says that TAA would have to be passed along with TPA and “I support the TAA, but not under these circumstances.” DeFazio cites an article in Politico, which says he told the president’s chief of staff, Denis McDonough, “that the White House’s position was ‘bullshit.’”
The email continues, “And we didn’t fall for that BS. The TAA bill went down in flames. It wasn’t even close: 302 to 126.”
Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden has supported the legislation, and Sen. Jeff Merkley has opposed it. The trade deal is not yet dead, but with Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton distancing herself from Obama on trade and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi backing the opposition, pundits say the TPP’s prospects are dim. Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has also opposed the deal.