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Business Groups Back Obama on Trade Amid Historic Debate

January 6, 2014
Exports   ship
The Trade Benefits America Coalition, led by groups including the Business Roundtable, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Association of Manufacturers, is backing Obama.   

(Updates with DeLauro comments in 20th paragraph.)

 

Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Some of the largest U.S. business groups are lining up behind President Barack Obama to pressure Congress to clear the way for a pair of trade deals that could set rules for more than half the world’s economy.

The agreements, with 11 Pacific Rim countries and the 28- nation European Union may also help Obama deliver on his promise to double U.S. exports above 2009 levels by the end of the year, an increasingly distant goal.

Standing in his way: almost 200 Democrats and Republicans who say they won’t yield to him the "fast track" authority to hammer out agreements without congressional amendments.

"Fast-track authority is an undemocratic seizure of power that usurps our ability to represent the American people," Representative Louise Slaughter, a New York Democrat, said. "There’s absolutely no reason why it should be renewed."

In the coming days, Senate Finance Committee leaders Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, a Michigan Republican, plan to introduce a bill to give Obama fast-track authority. The ensuing debate may produce one of the most contentious discussions of trade policy on Capitol Hill since the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement 20 years ago.

 

Roundtable, Chamber

 

The Trade Benefits America Coalition, led by groups including the Business Roundtable, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the American Farm Bureau Federation and the National Association of Manufacturers, is backing Obama. The coalition -- whose approximately 160 members include Boeing Co., MetLife Inc., Pfizer Inc. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. -- has ramped up its lobbying campaign in recent months.

The coalition has held hundreds of meetings with federal, state and local officials to counter growing opposition to the administration’s agenda. They’ve run ads in influential papers and started a website to tout what they see as the benefits of trade-promotion authority, or TPA, as fast-track is formally known.

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