Democratic Party Panel Defeats Anti-TPP Proposal

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By Maeve Allsup

June 27 — Support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) lives on in some parts of the Democratic Party, despite opposition from some prominent members of the party and concern expressed by presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton.

An amendment proposed by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) opposing the TPP was voted down by members of a Democratic National Convention drafting committee June 25 in St. Louis.

Inappropriate Opposition

While the platform draft affirmed that the party would support trade deals that “protect workers and the environment,” the document did not take a stand against TPP, instead noting the diversity of opinions within the party surrounding the issue.

Several members of the panel appointed by Clinton and DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz said it would be inappropriate to oppose the TPP while President Barack Obama supports it. “What I don’t want to do is leave this place disregarding the position of the President of the United States, who is the leader of our party today, independent of my disagreement with him,” said Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Ill).

Lone Supporter

Howard Berman, a California Democrat and former member in the House, offered his public support for the TPP at the drafting session. “The president’s right in what he is doing,” Berman said, “There are serious foreign policies, national securities wrapped up in this.”

Campaign Response

“We are proud the draft 2016 Democratic platform sets forward progressive principles and high standards on trade,” Maya Harris, a senior policy advisor for the Hillary for America, said in a statement posted on the campaign website. The statement added, however, noted “many Democrats oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership because ‘the agreement does not meet the standards set out in this platform.’ ”

Aspirational, Imperfect

Other Democratic Party members were less optimistic about the outcome of the draft.

“Our Party’s platform has always been both aspirational and imperfect,” said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) in a statement released June 27, acknowledging that the draft didn’t contain all provisions she was hoping for.

“I will continue to oppose TPP,” Lee said.

Next Steps

The platform draft, completed June 25 in St. Louis requires approval from the full Platform Committee at a July 8 and 9 meeting in Orlando before being presented for ratification at the Democratic National Convention.

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