The U.S. House voted down the trade package today.
U.S. Reps. Denny Heck, D-Olympia, and Adam Smith, D-Bellevue, announced they would vote “no” on the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) measure, or Fast Track. They join Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Seattle, in opposition. All other members of Washington State’s delegation support the trade measure.
The trade package placed Democrats at odds with one another—Obama supports it, Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Big Labor oppose it. Unions like the AFL-CIO claim it lacks transparency, reduces collective bargaining power and restricts the power of Congress—you can check out why that is a highly hypocritical argument here.
Advocates of free trade see the trade measure very differently. The News Tribune writes,
“If you favor open borders and low tariffs on American exports, you give TPA to the president. If you fear trade and want to perpetuate protective barriers against international commerce, you deny him that authority. It’s really that stark…
“By all accounts, its advantages would tilt heavily toward the United States. It would lower Asian tariffs against U.S. goods and protect American innovators and artists against the piracy of intellectual property.
“This trade-dependent state’s fortunes are tied directly to the partnership. Washington farmers and manufacturers – and the jobs they sustain – need more access to those Asian markets.”
So, why would Reps. Smith and Heck join Rep. McDermott in opposing the Fast Track? Simply put, big labor has applied a lot of pressure on our state’s Democrat representatives to oppose the bill. They bent to that pressure…. perhaps out of fear of a primary challenge.
Both Reps. Smith and Heck are guilty of placing the interests of special interests ahead of the interests of their districts. The Seattle Times,
“Trade is big business for Washington. Numerous companies and manufacturers ship goods all over the world from airplanes and apples to specialized medical devices and boats for law enforcement and military. Washington exports ballooned by 40 percent over the last four years, to $90.6 billion in 2014 and trade is related to about 40 percent of jobs here, according to the Washington Council on International Trade…
“Smith’s district ranks fourth among the top 10 congressional districts for export growth, according to the Wall Street Journal. Since 2006, exports from Smith’s district jumped by $6.9 billion. That type of growth supports a lot of jobs, many of them blue collar. The concern about depressed wages for Americans is important, but it’s a problem across U.S. employers whether or not they are involved in trade…
“Heck’s district is home to companies such as Port Blakely Tree Farms, a log products company that sends about a third of its volume to Asia, and Nutriom, a maker of dehydrated egg products that brings in 10 percent of its sales from abroad. These are not huge corporations. They are local companies trying to take advantage of the global marketplace.”