Freshman Democrats Tell Obama to Change Course on Fast Track for the TPP

The proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal could only lead to the offshoring of U.S. jobs, especially in the service sector, and the erosion of America wages, nine newly-elected Democrats said in a letter to the president. Overall, 13 of 17 newly-elected Democrats are opposing Fast Track.

"We join the vast majority of House Democrats in the 113th Congress who announced opposition to Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority," the members wrote in one letter to Obama. "Nearly every ranking member and large blocs of the New Democrat Coalition, Blue Dogs, Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Hispanic Caucus were united in opposing Fast Track and demanding a replacement to that Nixon-era procedure that Congress has refused to authorize but for five of the past twenty years."

President Obama made a pitch for their support in his State of the Union address, asking that they grant him trade promotion authority. The problem is that such a bill, which would make it easier for the administration to get trade deals passed in Congress, is asking lawmakers to abdicate their Constitutional responsibility to amend agreements and require them to put the finalized agreement to a simple up-or-down vote.

Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) led the efforts of a group of the letter writers and his version was signed by Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania's 13th District; Mark DeSaulnier of California's 11th District; Debbie Dingell of Michigan's 12th District; Brenda Lawrence of Michigan's 14th District; Ted Lieu of California's 33rd District; Kathleen Rice of New York's 4th District; Mark Takai of Hawaii's 1st District; and Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey's 12th District.

"[W]e believe this legislation lacked sufficient guarantees to ensure Congress' voice in shaping the substance of international trade agreements negotiated by the Administration," another group of freshman Democratic legislators wrote. "Our concern is that previous versions of TPA legislation did not ensure sufficient input of our constituents' concerns about labor, environmental, and human rights protections that must be essential in the trade deals you are currently negotiating."

Reps. Seth Moulton of Massachusetts' 6th District, Pete Aguilar of California's 31st District and Norma Torres of California's 35th District wrote the second letter.