Progressive Democrats are in an unenviable position on trade policy: They just finished losing a major struggle with their own party’s president that made it easier to pass major international trade agreements, and now they’re tasked with stopping a major international trade agreement.
And on Thursday, with the release of the full text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, that fight kicked into a higher gear.
Hours after its release, progressive Democrats held a press conference to showcase their opposition and laid out their plans to erode support for the trade pact, which would lower trade barriers between the U.S. and 11 other Pacific nations.
“We’re getting people information, we’ll do briefings, we’ll do hearings, we’ll do all those kinds of things,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro, one of the chief Democratic critics of the deal in the House.
But it’s an uphill fight. Earlier this year, progressives were unable to stop the House and Senate from passing legislation giving President Obama Trade Promotion Authority (also known as “fast track”), which guarantees that trade pacts get an unamended, up-or-down vote in the Senate.
Now, stripped of the ability to filibuster, progressives would have to convince enough Republicans or centrist Democrats to vote down the deal.