Six days after Democrats deserted President Barack Obama on the signature trade issue of his administration, the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday to grant presidential “fast track” authority to negotiate trade deals, including the Trans Pacific Partnership, a controversial 12-nation agreement with Pacific Rim nations.
The passage of the measure, by a 218-208 vote, is one of several that need to wind its way through Congress for Obama to get all that he needs regarding the TPP. In a statement, an angry U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson called the vote “an unpardonable offense against America’s workers, the American economy, workers in other nations, our environment, and American sovereignty.”
“We just ceded our ability to ensure that our trade deals actually benefit America,” the Orlando-area Democratic congressman said in a prepared statement. “We didn’t vote for ‘free trade,’ we voted for ‘fake trade.’ We have voted to increase our trade deficit, which in turn will increase our budget deficit. Our trade debt is $11 trillion right now – that’s over $35,000 for every man, woman, and child in America. We have made it easier for other countries to sell us their goods, and then use their profits to buy our assets. We’ve just paved the way for more deals like NAFTA that hurt our workers and our economy. For the past 14 years, we’ve had a trade deficit of half a trillion dollars every year … more than a billion dollars a day.”