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Michigan's U.S. Senators have doubts about trade deal legislation

Apr 19, 2015

Neither of Michigan’s U.S. Senators likes a deal that would give President Obama the authority to negotiate a major trade deal with Pacific nations.

“I will support any agreement that makes sure we are exporting products, and not our jobs,” says U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

There are congressional hearings on the legislation this week.

A difficult bipartisan agreement over global U.S. trade policy is turning into a bitter battle among Democrats, pitting the president and his business-friendly allies on Capitol Hill against lawmakers loyal to labor unions.

“I have serious concerns about the trade promotion authority legislation, especially since it could be used to push through a Trans-Pacific Partnership that does not adequately address currency manipulation," says U.S. Senator Gary Peters
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The longtime division in the party broke open Thursday when top congressional lawmakers finally reached the long-sought deal, which would open the way for broadest trade policy pact in years. Under the agreement, Obama would be allowed to negotiate trade accords for Congress' review and move forward with talks on a sweeping partnership with 11 Pacific nations.

Obama quickly said he will sign the bill if Congress passes it.

House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, applauded the deal but said much of the burden of its success rests with Obama and his divided Democrats.

Senior Senator Debbie Stabenow plays to vote no.

“I am not supporting what they are calling fast-track authority on trade because I have not yet seen the teeth in the enforcement end of it,” says Stabenow.

U.S. Sen. Gary Peters also has doubts.

Peters says Congress needs to develop new trade strategies to “create a level playing field for American workers to compete globally.”