Dec 1, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Labor groups ask Pelosi to apply trade test to Foreign Affairs chair

Nancy Pelosi

Pelosi. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Labor groups are urging House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to oppose a bid by Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) to lead the House Foreign Affairs Committee, arguing that his "pro-corporate trade" stances should preclude him from being elected to the powerful position.

What they're saying: "How America’s trade is structured, and by whom, is fundamental in determining whether we advance workers’ rights," the Communications Workers of America, Teamsters, United Brotherhood of Carpenters, and International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers write in a letter obtained by Axios.

Driving the news: A contested election for the chairmanship is expected this week.

  • The committee's jurisdiction is much broader in scope than just trade, touching on everything from foreign assistance to national security, cyber issues and public diplomacy.
  • Nearly three dozen progressive groups last month endorsed Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas) for the job instead.

The big picture: Progressives aren't just weighing in on congressional leadership.

  • Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and incoming Reps. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) and Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) joined a petition to try to block President-elect Biden's former chief of staff from getting an administration position.
  • Progressives have also been outspoken in their opposition to the idea of former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel as Transportation secretary.

Details: Critics of Meeks highlight his role in launching the bipartisan Friends of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Caucus, and they say pro-corporate trade is a political loser for the 2022 midterms as Democrats seek support from working-class voters upset with a "rigged economy."

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