After strong words about Cabinet nominees, U.S Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., had kinder words for the president Monday.
Donald Trump signed executive orders on his first real day on the job in the Oval Office. Among those was one backing out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade agreement with a laundry list of Pacific Rim nations but without the largest Asian nation, China.
The Obama administration lauded the pact, backed by Hillary Clinton when she was Secretary of State. Clinton later backed away from it on the campaign trail.
But Casey was unequivocal in his statements Monday.
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“I support President Trump’s issuing of an executive order that will pull the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and his recent steps to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. NAFTA has adversely impacted middle-class families in Pennsylvania and the TPP would have cost jobs and hurt income growth, which is why I voted against fast-tracking the deal in 2015,” he said in a statement.
He spoke about the impact on manufacturing areas of Pennsylvania, like Braddock, the Pittsburgh-area steel town whose mayor, John Fetterman, ran for Republican Sen. Pat Toomey’s seat in 2016, building on a renaissance, rebuilding message.
“In Braddock, the population declined approximately 82 percent from 1960 through 2010, in part because of economic policies that rig the system against workers. The stories I heard from those workers are borne out by the facts: from 1993 through 2002, 525,094 workers were certified as displaced by trade by the Department of Labor and from 1993 through 2010 our trade deficit with Mexico increased by $66 billion,” Casey said.
He pointed to disproportionate workers’ wages in the TPP nations as hamstringing American manufacturing.
“... Eight of 11 countries in the TPP have minimum wages lower than the U.S. and seven having minimum wages below $3 per hour, it would be unfair to force Pennsylvania workers to compete for those jobs. Our workers deserve a fair shot instead of an uneven playing field,” Casey said. “When it comes to free trade deals, Pennsylvania often gets the short end of the economic stick and It’s time for that to change.”
Casey urged cooperation between the administration, Congress and “those of us who have long opposed these bad trade deals in order to finally level the playing field for our workers.”
Last week, Casey said he could not support three Trump nominees: philanthropist Betsy DeVos for education, Sen. Jeff Sessions for attorney general and Oklahoma AG Scott Pruitt for the Environmental Protection Agency.