Indiana Senator Dan Coats predicts the Senate will approve fast-track trade authority this week for a Pacific Rim trade deal, but says getting there may be a tough slog. Several Democrats are defying President Obama to try to block fast-track, which would allow the administration to begin final negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and let the eventual deal come to the floor without amendments.
“It’s impossible to negotiate a trade agreement if you have 535 members of Congress having to weigh in with hundreds and hundreds of amendments," Coats says. "You have to give the authority to the negotiators and to the Executive Branch. And we reserve the right to vote for it or vote against it.”
Opponents argue the deal with 11 other nations would ship jobs overseas. At least three Republicans are threatening to join Democrats in opposing the Trade Promotion Authority bill. Coats says supporters need to keep making the case. He says the trade deal will tear down tariffs and unleash American exports.
“It’s a huge market in Asia for the United States. We’re in a global economy now and our agriculture sector here in Indiana is a major, major exporter,” Coats says.
But while Coats expects the Senate to pass fast track, he says a blizzard of amendments may delay a scheduled Memorial Day recess.