WASHINGTON – The White House released a new report Thursday touting big figures: 11.7 million American jobs are now supported by exports, adding a positive notch to President Obama’s highly anticipated trade deals.
He’s working overtime to sell his trade policy to members of Congress – and also across the Western Hemisphere during a three day trek at the Summit of the Americas.
“We know that every billion dollars of exports supports more than 5,000 U.S. jobs,” said U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman at the White House Thursday.
The White House says last year more than 35,000 West Virginia jobs were supported by goods exports. Nearly 70 percent of all those exports went to countries involved in these new trade deals: The Trans pacific partnership – an 11 country negotiation – part of the administration’s ‘pivot to Asia,’ and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the United States and the European Union.
“We think it’s important that the U.S. take the lead and not be left out of these markets and have an opportunity to set the rules of the road for the global system,” Froman said.
West Virginia Congressman David McKinley, a Republican, is against the president’s plans – taking issue with the idea that the president wants trade promotion authority, meaning members of Congress are restricted to a simple ‘up or down’ vote on any trade agreement – and can’t add amendments.
On the undecided line are Senator Joe Manchin, Senator Shelly Moore Capito, Congressman Evan Jenkins, and Congressman Alex Mooney who all say they are still reviewing the policies before deciding whether or not to support the trade deals.
“The U.S. needs to be able to sit down with its trading partners at the negotiating table and speak with one voice because no other country is gonna ultimately agree to an agreement if they think it is going to be reopened and amended by 535 members of congress,” Froman said.
The White House trade agenda is ambitious but is it strong enough to gain support from members of Congress? We’ll find out as the trade debate heats up on Capitol Hill.