By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Friday, May 22, both US Senators Richard Shelby and Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) voted against giving Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) to the Administration of Barack H. Obama and his successors.
Sen. Richard Shelby said in a statement, “I have serious concerns with Congress ceding power to a President who has abused his authority numerous times in the past. There are far too many unanswered questions about the impact of the pending trade deal on American jobs, and I fear that Alabama could lose a significant number of jobs if President Obama agrees to an unfair agreement. Although I support the principle of free trade, I do not have confidence in this Administration’s ability to negotiate a trade deal that will ultimately be in the best interest of the American people or our economy.”
Sen. Jeff Sessions said, “I asked the President how his fast-tracked proposals would impact jobs, wages, and trade deficits. He would not answer. The bill’s promoters also refused to answer when asked whether their proposal would reduce net manufacturing jobs in the United States. That is because they know it will. Like the South Korean trade deal—which doubled our trade deficit after promises of a trade renaissance—this proposal will widen further our trade deficits and eliminate jobs.”
Sen. Sessions continued, “The Trans-Pacific Partnership opens our markets to foreign imports, but allows foreign countries to continue closing their market to ours. Our country has not been engaged in reciprocal free trade but, as the Chairman Emeritus of Nucor Steel explained, “the enablement of foreign mercantilism” and “unilateral trade disarmament. We have allowed state-dominated and mercantilist trading partners to maintain their varied and elaborate non-tariff barriers, exporting their unemployment to our shores.”
Sen. Sessions concluded, “Stubbornly, our political elites have treated trade as a matter of religion. To them, there is no such thing as a bad deal. They know American workers lose jobs when we allow trading partners to cheat. But they insist it is all for the greater good. This is why the American worker keeps ending up on the losing end. Fast-track will also lock into passage a new global governance authority known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Commission. Chartered with a ‘Living Agreement,’ this new transnational commission will be able to amend the agreement after its adoption. Among other things, this could empower the President to expand the admission of foreign workers without congressional approval. We are creating another unelectable, unaccountable, unanswerable bureaucracy that can tie down and frustrate American sovereignty. Congress is forgetting its duty: to improve jobs and wages for Americans.”
Despite the Senators’ efforts, the Senate passed the controversial TPA trade authority.
Democrats joined 48 Republicans in giving the President a substantial legislative victory.
The TPA now goes to the House where Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has already announced his support. The Speaker issued a statement applauding Friday’s Senate passage of the bipartisan trade promotion authority (TPA) legislation. Speaker Boehner said,
“Trade helps create good-paying American jobs, so it’s good news that the Senate has put us one step closer to eliminating trade barriers. These reforms have the support of farmers, manufacturers, small business owners, and Americans from all walks of life, and it’s not hard to figure out why. With trade promotion authority, we’ll be able to hold President Obama accountable so America’s workers can get the best agreements. Without it, our workers will fall further behind as China writes the rules of the global economy. It is a no-brainer. The House will take up this measure, and Republicans will do our part, but ultimately success will require Democrats putting politics aside and doing what’s best for the country. Let’s seize this opportunity to open new doors for the things Americans make and the people who make them.”