AUGUSTA, Maine — Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin announced Wednesday he will vote against President Barack Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, further solidifying the Maine congressional delegation’s opposition to the measure.
Poliquin joins Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree against the trade deal. Independent Sen. Angus King and Republican Sen. Susan Collins have not taken a firm stance for or against the measure but have voiced serious reservations.
“After months of careful and thorough analysis, I’ve concluded that the proposed TPP international trade agreement is not in the best interest of our workers and their families,” said Poliquin in a video released Wednesday. “I don’t believe this deal gives us a fair shot and as a result I do not support it.”
The TPP is a deal among 12 countries that has been in the works for years and is an Obama administration priority. It would eliminate tariffs on internationally traded goods and services with a goal of equalizing regulations and practices among the participating countries. The deal needs approval from the U.S. Congress, which has proven elusive.
Poliquin, Pingree and Collins argue that the deal doesn’t do enough to protect U.S. workers, particularly those in Maine’s paper- and shoemaking industries.
Collins was critical of the deal in May 2015.
“I am concerned that TPP will end up penalizing companies like New Balance that have remained committed to American manufacturing, rather than moving their production jobs overseas,” said Collins in a written statement in which she said she is “very likely” to oppose TPP.
Pingree said she doubts that the issue will come to a vote in the House, especially in an election year.
“I intend to vote against the TPP if it comes up,” she said in March. “I’ve been very vocal that they don’t have my vote. … I don’t think they have the votes.”
King has not said how he would vote on TPP but has indicated he has reservations.
“I have serious concerns that the TPP will put Maine companies and their workers at a significant competitive disadvantage,” he said. “I just don’t know how to explain to Maine people that they have to compete straight up with countries with little or no labor protections, weak environmental standards and wages below a dollar an hour.”