Ag Policy Blog

Sanders to Democrats: No TPP Vote in Lame Duck Congress

Chris Clayton
By  Chris Clayton , DTN Ag Policy Editor
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To the cheers of Democratic delegates, Vermont Sen. excoriated the Trans-Pacific Partnership during his late-night speech at the Democratic National Convention.

Sanders was the capstone speaker of the night, seeking to herd his delegates and supporters who feel the primary deck was stacked against them by the Democratic Party leadership. Part of his speech stressed that Sanders' backers were able to strongly influence the party platform. Sanders noted of the platform language, "It also calls for strong opposition to job-killing free trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership," Sanders said of the party platform.

Then Sanders went off his prepared remarks and added, "We have got to make sure that TPP does not get to the floor of the Congress in the lame-duck session," to a roaring ovation as the crowd chanted "No TPP" and held up signs that said the same.

Given the opposition expressed by activists in both political parties to TPP over the past week, it increasingly looks like the U.S. may end up killing the 12-country Pacific trade pact it put together.

The Democratic platform is critical of the dispute settlement mechanism in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which allows investors to bring claims against member states based on commitments in the agreement. "These are the standards Democrats believe must be applied to all trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership," the platform states.

Yet, as DTN's Washington Insider notes, the Democratic platform did not rule out a lame-duck vote by Congress on TPP, but an adviser to presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton said the pact doesn't meet the standards set out in the party platform. The Republican platform said significant trade agreements, like TPP, shouldn't be undertaken in a lame duck session of Congress.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama is stuck trying to sell a trade deal that has the backing of agricultural groups, but seemingly few others.

On Friday, Obama and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto held a joint news conference. TPP will make and already "extraordinarily strong" U.S. economic relationship with Mexico even stronger, Obama said.

"Through forums like our high-level economic dialogue, we're going to keep working to boost trade and grow our economies and create more opportunity for our people," Obama said.

Nieto, speaking through an interpreter, said that the pending TPP provides an opportunity to update the 1993 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) after member countries have had more than 20 years of experience with NAFTA.

"One of the values of TPP is that we've learned from our experiences in NAFTA what's worked, what hasn't, where we can strengthen it," Obama said. Several TPP provisions address criticisms of NAFTA, Obama said.


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