- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Rep. Peter Welch said Tuesday that he opposes giving President Obama the power to negotiate new free-trade deals — in yet another sign of the the hurdles standing before the White House’s trade agenda.

Mr. Welch, Vermont Democrat, said on C-Span’s “Washington Journal” that he opposes the “fast-track” negotiating authority that Mr. Obama is seeking and that would limit the say of Congress to up-or-down votes on complex trade deals.

“I am against the fast-track authority,” Mr. Welch said. “I think that is an unwise thing for us to do right now.”

Mr. Obama urged lawmakers in his State of the Union Address last week to grant him the power, which aides said would help him hash out major market-opening deals with a group of Pacific Rim economies and with the European Union.


It has been a tough sell.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, said he is “against fast track.”

Mr. Welch said Tuesday that Congress must ensure that new trade agreements protect the environment and wages to prevent a “race to the bottom.”

“In this economy, we have to be absolutely confident if we are entering a new trade agreement … that that is going to be a net positive for us,” Mr. Welch said. “We have had some trade agreements that have worked for us and some that have burned us.”

Mr. Welch said the North American Free Trade Agreement has led to a net loss of jobs.