WASHINGTON — Major labor unions and business groups clashed Tuesday over President Barack Obama’s bid for “fast track” authority to advance trade deals being negotiated with numerous nations.
AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka told the Senate Finance Committee that the fast track legislation would rob Congress of a meaningful role in shaping trade deals.
Fast track authority lets Congress reject or endorse — but not amend — proposed trade deals backed by the president.
“The idea that fast track lets Congress set the standards and goals for the TPP is an absolute fiction,” Trumka said, referring to the pending 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Obama is likely to send Congress the Pacific-rim proposal if he wins fast track approval. Trade deals with European nations and others could follow.