Indiana’s two senators took divergent paths in their votes on so-called “fast track” trade authority.
Senator Dan Coats, a Republican who announced that he is retiring in 2016, voted to give President Obama the authority to finalize a free trade deal known as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). Senator Joe Donnelly, a first-term Democrat, voted against the bill.
The “fast track” bill would clear the way for a vote on the final deal, perhaps as soon as this year. The bill would remove Congress’ ability to amend the final agreement and eliminate the the possibility of a filibuster in the Senate.
The Senate rejected the bill today with all but one Democrat voting in opposition.
“It is vitally important we keep Hoosier — and all American — businesses and industries competitive through the promotion of exports. Indiana grows and produces some of the best quality products in the world, which is why I have continually supported the promotion of agricultural exports and introduced legislation to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank. We need to expand opportunities to sell these products around the world and grow our economy,” Donnelly said in a statement.
“At the same time, we know that in any trade agreement there are winners and losers. Unfortunately, recent history has taught us that far too often the losers in these trade deals are Indiana small businesses, manufacturers, and middle class Hoosiers. When Hoosier workers lose nearly every time our country signs a new trade agreement, as a U.S. Senator, you don’t give up your ability to offer amendments to help our state’s businesses and workers. You don’t give up your seat at the table. You fight for a better deal,” Donnelly added.
Senator Coats did not release a statement after the vote, although he has expressed support for TPP in the past.
“In Indiana, we are a big export state. Getting this right means a great deal to many, many Hoosiers… whose jobs are there because we’re able to export agricultural products, steel, auto products, pharmaceuticals products, medical devices and a whole range of other products,” Coats said in January during a Senate Finance Committee hearing.