When Did Democrats Become America’s Free Trade Believers?
By Bruce Stokes, Director of Global Economic Attitudes, Pew Research Center
Special to Foreign Policy
The House of Representatives returns to Washington the first week of June and high on its agenda is consideration of “fast track” trade negotiating authority also known as Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). As one of its last actions before leaving town for the Memorial Day recess, the Senate passed fast track by a vote of 62-37, after a contentious debate. Observers believe the House vote is too close to call, with several dozen Republicans threatening to vote against passage and fewer than two dozen Democrats promising to vote in favor.
Pundits are already framing the fast-track fight in the House as a classic confrontation between free-trade Republicans backed by the business community and wary Democrats supported by organized labor. At issue are concerns about the transparency of trade negotiations, the potential for corporations to use investment dispute settlement mechanisms to overturn domestic health and safety regulations, new intellectual property protections that drive up the cost of pharmaceuticals for developing countries, labor and environmental standards, and foreign currency manipulation.
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