US Democrats vote not to oppose TPP

Party loyalty trumps personal ethics at DNC Committee.

Party unity will keep US Democrats from opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), despite both of the party’s leading presidential nominees saying they are against the deal.

Members of the Democratic National Convention platform committee have decided to move against including a specific opposition to the TPP to the party's platform (essentially, it's manifesto for the November election).

The attempt failed because both members appointed by Hillary Clinton and DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz say it is inappropriate to oppose the TPP when US President Barack Obama is supportive of the deal.

Representative Luis Gutierrez signalled in a statement at the committee that although he is in opposition to free-trade deals, backing the president was more important at this moment.

“What I don’t want to do is leave this place disregarding the position of the President of the United States, who is the leader of our party today, independent of my disagreement with him.

“I’ve been taken away in handcuffs more than once in my disagreement with this president of the United States but this is the moment to bring our party together and I don’t want to send a message of disunity,” he says.

Another member, Representative E J Cummings, chose to vote against the resolution to oppose the deal although he too spent time signalling his anti-trade agreement credentials.

“I don’t want to do anything as [Mr Obama] ends his term to undercut the president of the United States. I’m just not going to do it. And that’s where I stand. It wouldn’t bother me. It would be a harder decision if the language that we have in the document did not already go to what we feel going forward,” Mr Cummings says.

Only a single DNC party member publically supported the TPP, former representative Howard Berman, who was appointed by DNC chairwoman Ms Schultz. He also disputed whether free-trade agreements should be held responsible for the loss of hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs.

“The president’s right in what he is doing. There are serious foreign policies, national security wrapped up in this,” he says.

The opposition platform was influenced by Senator Bernie Sanders – who also competed in the US primary elections. Senator Sanders says the party’s decision was “inexplicable” and it was “hard to understand why Mrs Clinton’s delegates won’t stand behind her positions in the party’s platform.”

During her campaign for primary nomination, former secretary of state Hillary Clinton stated she would not support the TPP deal in its present form. But rather than rejecting the agreement outright, Mrs Clinton suggests a revision of particular aspects of the deal which leaves open the possibility for the presumptive nominee to change her mind if she secures the national election in November.

The vote not to oppose the TPP represents a split between Senator Sanders’ DNC appointees and Mrs Clinton’s appointees, indicating the party expects Mrs Clinton to do just that. 

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