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Ohio Sen. Brown bill to restore congressional oversight to trade negotiations

Columbus Government Examiner – Ohio senior U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown, running this year for a second term, finds himself in a tough fight with a little known newcomer outside of Ohio, State Treasurer Josh Mandel, who won the most votes of any candidate running for statewide office in 2010.

A 38-year veteran of Ohio politics where labor issues have largely played a big role in elections over the decades, Sen. Brown, who defeated former GOP two-term Sen. Mike DeWine in the Democratic wave election of 2006, has never been mistaken for someone whose allegiance to the private sector, like Mandel’s seems to be, comes first and last.

Speaking on a conference call with reporters Wednesday on a new trade policy bill he will introduce this week, Brown said that had it not been for the 8-plus million dollars in attack ads already spent against him so far this election cycle, his election battle with Mandel “wouldn’t be a contest.”

Sen. Brown attributed the antagonism directed toward him to his support of labor issues and labor unions and to his opposition to outsourcing jobs and subsidies for oil companies, among other positions he’s staked out during his life in elected politics.

Sen. Brown, joined on the call by James P. Hoffa, president, International Brotherhood of Teamsters and Stephen Biegun, VP of International Government Affairs, the Ford Motor Company, said that with negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) slated to continue next week in California, he will introduce new legislation this week—the 21st Century Trade and Market Access Act—that would delegate new authority to the Administration to negotiate new trade deals while re-asserting the role of Congressional oversight into the substance of negotiations.

Sen. Brown said his legislation, which doesn’t have co-sponsors yet, is designed to prevent another NAFTA-style agreement from undermining Ohio manufacturing and automotive jobs by restoring Congressional oversight to trade negotiations to ensure that American trading partners play by the same rules as the U.S.

The raspy-voiced Sen. Brown noted that while Congress has the constitutional authority to regulate trade and commerce with foreign nations, for the past several decades, it has delegated to the executive branch the authority to select trading partners, negotiate, and sign new trade deals before it votes on the matter.

Through the 21st Century Trade and Market Access Act, Sen. Brown said it would delegate new authority to the Administration to negotiate new trade deals while re-asserting the role of Congressional oversight into the substance of negotiations.

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