President Obama’s trade headaches will likely throb even harder following a two-prong assault by his party on his landmark trade treaty, the Trans Pacific Partnership. In the Senate, Bernie Sanders, age 73, cold-cocked the bill seeking to grant the president trade promotion authority (TPA). The Democrat presidential hopeful invoked a little used senate rule to stymie a vote by the Senate Finance Committee to advance TPA to a committee vote. It is unclear how long Sanders’ administrative obstacle will delay the vote, but for now the bill will not advance. Bernie Sanders wants to compel Japan to desist from further currency manipulation in order to allow US automakers a level playing field.
Meanwhile in the House of Representatives, Democrats used a procedural maneuver to delay TPA from advancing in the House Ways and Means Committee. Rep. Sander Levin (D) of Michigan offered up a Democrat alternative TPA bill. This will force the committee to examine that bill before it can decide on a final bill. Folks at Boraie Development (blog.nj.com) know that the Levin bill would grant President Obama fast-track authority, but he could only exercise the authority after verifying to Congress that key provisions for labor unions, worker safety, and domestic wages were protected. The president would also have to prove that markets will open to US auto makers in tangible ways most TPP nations refuse to accept. This likely means banning currency manipulation. The Democrat bill stands no chance of passage. However, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi hopes that elements of the Levin bill can get incorporated into the GOP’s TPA bill and result in a bipartisan solution.