Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid stated in no uncertain terms that he opposes President Obama’s push to fast-track a vote on a major trade pact between the U.S. and a dozen Pacific Rim nations.
“You couldn’t find a person to ask this question who feels more negatively about it than I do,” Reid told reporters when asked whether he supports Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which would allow an up-or-down vote on the Obama-backed trade pact, the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
“So the answer is not only no, but hell no,” Reid said of support for the measure, which is being backed in the Senate by Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden.
New York U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, who was stood next to Reid as he fielded reporters’ questions, acknowledged Reid’s frankness.
“How do you really feel?” Schumer said in jest.
“I have never, ever in my 33 years in Congress ever supported — ever supported — a trade agreement,” Reid explained to reporters, adding, “I’m not going to start now.”
“They’re not good for the American people. They’re not good for working men and women. It puts us at a disadvantage,” he continued.
Many Democrats and their supporters, such as trade unions, fear that the trade agreement will lead to job losses in the U.S.
Reid acknowledged that Wyden “knows how I feel” about TPP and the fast-track push.
“Everyone in my caucus knows how I feel, and the president knows how I feel. That’s why we didn’t bring it up last Congress.”
“My only thing that I am going to tell Ron, as I have, slow this thing down a little bit,” Reid continued. “This is really marching forward. I think there should have been more time in the committee.”
Despite his opposition, Reid said he will not act on his own accord to block the measure.
President Obama, who says that the trade deal is needed so that American companies will not be crowded out of Asian markets by China, conducted an interview to discuss the measure with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews. It airs Tuesday night.