Obama base voices concern on Pacific trade pact


Lawmakers from President Barack Obama’s Democratic Party voiced alarm Tuesday over a proposed trans-Pacific trade pact, saying negotiations were too secretive and could lead to US job losses.
A letter signed by a majority of first-term Democrats in the House of Representatives said that talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Obama has billed as a signature priority, have progressed in “extreme secrecy.”
The lawmakers vowed to resist efforts to give Obama “fast-track” trade promotion authority — which would let his team negotiate a deal, with Congress then voting up or down without the opportunity to make changes.
“Congress needs to work together to get American trade policy back on track — not give away its authority to do so,” said the letter spearheaded by Representative Mark Pocan of Wisconsin.
“Reducing our authority to ensure our trade agreements serve the public interest will undermine our efforts to create American jobs and to reform a misguided trade policy that has devastated our manufacturing base through the offshoring of American production and American jobs,” the letter said.
Lawmakers from the rival Republican Party have sought a renewal of fast-track authority, which ended in 2007, as a way to speed up work on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other trade agreements.
Obama has not formally sought fast-track authority from Congress but his nominee to be US Trade Representative, Mike Froman, told his confirmation hearing that the administration supported the step.