By: Michael Stumo
For those who are upset that Congress voted wrong again on trade policy, please consider the following:
We have built the strength to challenge the combined forces of the President, the Senate Majority Leader, Chairman of Ways and Means and the House Speaker on trade.
Fast Track passed only after an 11th hour concerted effort by the most powerful politicians in the U.S. Amazing!
Just last January, the media narrative was that trade would be easy to get through Congress because Obama and the GOP leadership agreed on Fast Track. They were wrong. This is what happened:
1. Our trade reform movement was ahead on congressional support during the entire Fast Track debate.
2. The top 10 radio show hosts in the U.S. opposed Fast Track.
3. Most presidential candidates opposed Fast Track, including Huckabee, Sanders, Jindal, Fiorina, Trump and others.
4. The calls and emails coming in to Congress opposed Fast Track.
5. The Democratic base made fixing trade a high priority “third rail” issue.
6. The constitutional and patriot conservative portion of the GOP base made Fast Track a high priority issue.
7. We won the first cloture vote in the Senate.
8. We won a vote on our currency and trade enforcement legislation in the Senate by 78-20.
9. We had the votes in the House to block Fast Track, prior to Rep. Paul Ryan and Speaker Boehner making last minute deals to switch about 20 votes.
10. We then won the Trade Adjustment Assistance vote in the House which seemed to block their efforts.
11. Boehner found a way (through the aforementioned deal-making) to squeak out a 219-211 vote for Fast Track and send it to the Senate.
12. Then Ted Cruz declared he would flip from “yes” to “no” on TPA, making Senate passage uncertain.
13. But the Senate then narrowly passed the House TPA bill by 60-38 (they needed 60 votes for cloture).
While the outcome is discouraging, a clear headed analysis of the long game shows the momentum is ours. Consider where we were just a few years ago, in 2011, regarding the Colombia and South Korea trade agreement votes; the Colombia trade agreement passed by 262 to 167 in the House. The GOP voted 231 “yes” and 9 “no”. The Dems voted 31 “yes” and 158 “no, the Korea trade agreement passed by 278 to 151 in the House. The GOP voted 219 “yes” and 21 “no”. The Dems voted 59 “yes” and 130 “no”.
This recent Fast Track vote was a drastic improvement from four years ago. It narrowly passed 218-211. The GOP voted 191 “yes” and 54 “no”. The Dems voted 28 “yes” and 157 “no.
We have the momentum. Our manufacturing plants practice “incremental improvement” every day, every week and every year. So must we. We must hold our current support and continue the trend towards gaining support.
None of this would have been possible without the advocacy from the voters. Thank you for keeping the pressure on during critical votes. Champions don’t let up. Our Founding Fathers did not let up. We will not let up either.
I will publish the list of House and Senate members that voted right and wrong, so you can continue showing appreciation or consternation for your elected officials. We may be within one election of charting a new course for American producers and their workers.
Michael Stumo is the Chief Executive Officer of the Coalition for a Prosperous America (CPA), a coalition of agriculture, manufacturing and organized labor associations, companies and individuals. CPA works for policies to balance U.S. trade, maintain U.S. sovereignty, and develop an effective national production and economic strategy.