House approves fast-track trade bill with little Alabama support

United States Capitol DC

The House took the first of many steps toward reviving President Barack Obama‘s trade agenda Thursday, by narrowly passing controversial fast-track trade authority for the President.

The 218-208 vote, with three of Alabama’s seven members voting yes, came less than a week after the trade legislation was quashed by the President’s own party.

In last week’s vote, House GOP leadership paired the fast-track bill, Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), with a measure known as Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), which gives aid to workers displaced by trade. Both measures needed to be approved in separate votes for the entire package to move forward. Thursday’s vote stripped the fast-track bill of the the worker assistance provisions while still granting the president fast-track authority to negotiate a massive, 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal.

The bill now moves on to the Senate, where White House and GOP leaders are standing by, hoping to make a deal with pro-trade Democrats.

Here’s a quick look at how the members of the Alabama Delegation voted and statements from their office:

  • Representative Bradley Byrne (R – 01): Did not vote
  • Representative Martha Roby (R – 02): Voted for TPA
  • Representative Mike Rogers (R – 03): Voted for TPA
  • Representative Robert Aderholt (R – 04): Voted against TPA
  • Representative Mo Brooks (R – 05): Voted against TPA
  • Representative Gary Palmer (R – 06): Voted against TPA
  • Representative Terri A. Sewell (D – 07): Voted for TPA

Roby: “There’s no question that trade supports jobs in Alabama, and it’s our responsibility to make sure trade agreements we enter into benefit American workers and serve our nation’s strategic global interests,” Rep. Roby said.

“That’s why this Trade Promotion bill is important. It puts Congress in a much better position to ratify good multi-lateral trade agreements and to stop bad ones.”

Sewell:  “I continue to believe that President Obama should be given the same trade promotion authority as past Presidents. I trust that President Obama will do right by the American people, and the people of Alabama’s 7th Congressional District. President Obama has our backs, and we should have his.

“President Obama has been unwavering in his support for promoting fair trade that protects American jobs and workers. I trust that President Obama will continue to protect the interests of the nation he has been elected to serve, and to uphold the values we hold dear.

“I am deeply disappointed that Congress has yet to reauthorize the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA). TAA is a vital lifeline for displaced workers that provides the needed resources for training, employment services, and relocation allowances. Globalization and automation — irrespective of trade agreements — have created a need for greater support services for workers who lost their jobs through no fault of their own.  It is my hope that my colleagues will reconsider the TAA vote because I strongly believe that TPA and TAA go hand in hand.”