A senior Democratic senator’s complaints Tuesday, and noisy protesters, underscored the Obama administration’s challenge in seeking congressional approval for enhanced powers to cut trade deals with Japan, India and many other countries.
Sen. Charles Schumer of New York said he worries that new trade deals will not help middle class incomes. He also said the United States must do more to prevent China from keeping its currency’s value artificially low, which enhances Chinese exports and dampens imports.
Schumer addressed his remarks to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, who made the administration’s pitch to the Senate Finance Committee.
Froman said Congress must return “trade promotion authority” to the White House in order to cut important trade deals with Pacific-rim nations and others. That power, sometimes called “fast-track” authority, allows presidents to send proposed trade agreements to Congress for yes or no votes, with no amendments.
Congress has sometimes granted such powers before. But many Democrats, liberals and labor unions have grown increasingly hostile to trade deals, saying they reduce U.S. jobs.