WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene has been named to President Obama’s Export Council, making the Medina Democrat the second member of Congress from Washington to serve on the advisory panel.
The appointment, announced by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, makes DelBene one of about 50 corporate chiefs, administration officials and lawmakers who advise the White House on international trade issues. The United States is trying to conclude a mammoth free-trade agreement called Trans-Pacific Partnership that would open Canada, Japan and nine Asia-Pacific nations to more American goods.
DelBene’s 1st Congressional District stretches from east King County to the Canadian border. It encompasses the tech hubs in Redmond and Bothell as well as wineries and farms in Woodinville and Snohomish County.
Her fellow delegation member, Republican Dave Reichert of Auburn, has served on the Export Council since 2010. Boeing Chief Executive James McNerney, Jr. chairs the council.
Obama has asked Congress to renew his trade promotion authority, which empowers the president to fast track trade negotiations and leave Congress to simply vote up or down on a deal.
Republicans generally support giving Obama that executive authority. But some Democrats are hesitant to cede any chance to weigh in on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would set not only tariffs on goods, but agreements on labor and environmental standards and protection for intellectual property. Some liberals also are concerned that the free-trade pact would offshore more American jobs and depress wages.
Ramsey Cox, DelBene’s spokeswoman, said DelBene would vote to give Obama trade promotion authority only if trade agreements contain “strong, enforceable environmental and labor protection.
“The United States has an opportunity to drastically improve labor standards and human rights in a region that has exhibited troubling behavior in the past, but we must have a trade agreement that has strong and enforceable labor requirements to do so.”