Election Doesn't Change Groups' Trade Deal Opposition

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By Brian Flood

Nov. 9 — Several environmental and labor groups that have long opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) haven't changed their minds about the potential trade deal because of Donald Trump's election.

The AFL-CIO, for example, sent a letter to Congress Nov. 9 calling a potential lame-duck vote on the trade deal “unacceptable.”

“For months we’ve seen the overwhelming opposition to this toxic deal grow,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “It would be irresponsible and unconscionable for members of Congress to defy their constituents and have a tainted vote on this deal.”

The organization also announced that union activists will travel to Washington, D.C., on Nov. 30 for a national lobby day with members of Congress.

Trump vocally opposed the trade deal on the stump, calling it “another disaster done and pushed by special interests who want to rape our country, just a continuing rape of our country.” As such, the lame-duck session would likely be the last chance for the TPP's proponents to see it enacted in its current form.

The Obama administration has touted the TPP as having “the strongest commitments on labor and the environment of any trade agreement in history.” But a number of labor and environmental organizations—groups that might not agree with the Republican president-elect on many issues—also oppose the deal, saying it wouldn't do enough to protect member countries' ability to protect worker rights and the environment.

Politics Unchanged

David Goldston, director of government affairs for the National Resources Defense Council, told Bloomberg BNA that despite the surprise outcome of the presidential election, the politics of the TPP are largely the same as they were on Nov. 7. He said the group has been expecting President Barack Obama to push for lame-duck ratification, and that some pro-trade Republicans could support the effort before Trump's inauguration.

A spokesman for the Center for International Environmental Law said there is very little hope that Trump will pursue a more environmentally friendly trade policy given his skepticism of climate change, hostility to the Environmental Protection Agency and support for the fossil fuel industry. Nevertheless, he said, the TPP is a deeply problematic deal that the group opposes, and Trump's election does not change that.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Flood in Washington at bflood@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jerome Ashton at jashton@bna.com

For More Information

The AFL-CIO's letter to Congress is available at http://src.bna.com/jZN.

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