Gov. Pete Ricketts, taking a break from his European trade mission, expressed disappointment today in the defeat of a trade measure in Congress.
Congress soundly defeated a Pacific Rim free trade initiative promoted by the Obama Administration.
The vote actually came on an amendment to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, touted as providing protection for workers who might be displaced by a deal worked out by the Obama Administration and 11 countries in the Pacific Rim. But, the 126-302 defeat is seen as a major blow to the overall bill and an indicator that President Barack Obama will have trouble getting Congress to approve the Trade Promotion Authority, which would give fast-track authority on trade deals, such as TPP.
Ricketts, during a conference call from Brussels with Nebraska reporters, said the vote was a blow to Nebraska agriculture.
“Trade is one of the reasons why we’re in Brussels,” Ricketts said. “It’s an important thing for us to be able to expand our markets in Nebraska, to be able to create more and better-paying jobs, to be able to expand our economy. So, it’s important to have these trade agreements and especially getting TPA done as well.”
The lopsided vote came despite a personal plea made by President Obama to fellow Democrats in the House. Obama has cast expanded trade authority as vital to his overall economic package.
Ricketts said the vote displays more work must be done to sell the idea to Congress. Congressional leaders have suggested the House could reconsider its vote on the trade deal early next week.
Nebraska Farm Bureau President Steve Nelson, on the trade mission with
Ricketts, expressed disappointment as well, pointing out trade is important to agricultural interests.
“But, Trade Promotion Authority and the trade agreements are extremely important both for those of us from the United States and Nebraska and for people in the European Union,” Nelson said. “It’s important, I think, that we continue to work on those.”