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Politics & Policy

Yes, Marco Rubio Read TPP — and That’s Not Even What He Voted for Today

Senator Rubio cast a vote today in favor of giving President Obama trade-promotion authority (“TPA”) to negotiate trade deals, a measure that passed the Senate 60–37. According to a headline on Breitbart, this means “MARCO RUBIO CASTS DECIDING VOTE FOR OBAMATRADE WITHOUT EVEN READING IT.” The idea of the piece: Rubio’s engaging in Pelosi-esque shenanigans by voting for a deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, that he hasn’t read.

First problem: Rubio has read the deal, according to his office. A member of his staff confirms that “Senator Rubio read the TPP text weeks ago.” (The preliminary, unfinished text and negotiations are confidential — only congressmen and staffers with security clearance can go check it out.)

The further problem: Rubio wasn’t actually voting for the TPP today, a distinction that the Breitbart article repeatedly blurs. The story quotes a bunch of primary-state activists who are outraged by the news Rubio hasn’t read the TPP text, saying, for instance, “Derry town councilman Mark Osborne also was shocked that Rubio didn’t read the bill before he voted for it.”

Rubio has certainly read the text of the bill he voted to end debate on today — you can too, it’s right here. His office released the following statement about his vote today:

Trade Promotion Authority is a key component to advancing U.S. international trade goals, opening new markets to American goods and services, and ensuring continued American leadership in Asia and Europe.  Renewing TPA will allow the U.S. to compete in the global marketplace, thus helping to grow our economy and create new opportunities for American workers and businesses.

#related#The Breitbart piece — like much of the bad reporting on this issue, following the spin of trade opponents — pretends that Rubio voted for TPP, the actual trade deal, today (referred to, apparently, as “Obamatrade”) by voting for TPA, which gives the office of the president the power to bring deals to Congress for up-or-down approval over the next six years.

Sometimes you have to simplify congressional procedure, but this is absurd. Breitbart writes, “Breitbart News has given Rubio more than a month—and at least five separate opportunities—to answer whether he read the text of TPP before he voted for it.” This is flat-out inaccurate – Rubio hasn’t voted for TPP; that vote will come at some point in the future and he can vote against it then if he’s so moved. Obviously it is more likely TPP will pass if President Obama gets trade-promotion authority, but the comparisons to “pass the bill so you know what’s in it” are way off base. In fact, it’s widely acknowledged that we have to give the president trade-promotion authority in order to have a deal to vote on at all – a preliminary version of which, again, Rubio has read. There will probably be good reasons to oppose TPP itself, and if you don’t want future trade deals, that’s a good reason to oppose TPA. But they are not the same thing.

Patrick BrennanPatrick Brennan is a writer and policy analyst based in Washington, D.C. He was Director of Digital Content for Marco Rubio's presidential campaign, writing op-eds, policy content, and leading the ...

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