Shaheen, Ayotte Back Fast-Track Trade Bill

May 23, 2015

New Hampshire U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (left) and Kelly Ayotte.
Credit File photos / NHPR

Both of New Hampshire’s US Senators voted in favor of giving President Obama additional trade powers.

The Senate voted 62 to 37 Friday to approve so-called “fast track” negotiating authority, in which Congress can ratify or reject, but not change, trade agreements presented by the president.

The measure won support from most of the Republican Senate majority, including New Hampshire’s Kelly Ayotte. In a statement, Ayotte said “New Hampshire businesses have told me [“fast track” authority] would help give them fair and equal access to sell their goods and services in new markets, thereby creating more jobs in New Hampshire.”

Jeanne Shaheen was one of 14 Senate Democrats to support the measure. She said the bill was “an opportunity to set high standards for future trade agreements, which can help New Hampshire businesses compete and increase their exports.”

Shaheen’s reference to “high standards” reflects a concern among many Democratic Senators that trade deals, such as the Obama Administration’s Trans-Pacific Partnership, would lead to American workers losing jobs. Shaheen herself had said she was “still trying to make up my mind” on the bill earlier this month, telling POLITICO that trade has “been good for New Hampshire, but I also am concerned about our need to address what happens to workers who are displaced because of trade.”

Speaker John Boehner has vowed the bill will receive “strong Republican support” in the House, a chamber in which New Hampshire’s delegation may split on the issue. 1st District Republican Frank Guinta was listed by The Hill as a supporter of fast-track legislation. 2nd District Democrat Ann Kuster, meanwhile, was one of the Congressional Democrats listed as signatories to a letter opposing fast-track authority on trade agreements.