By Erin Murphy, Gazette-Lee Des Moines Bureau
DES MOINES — Speaking to a group of central Iowa business leaders, U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack on Tuesday reiterated that he will not vote to approve the international trade deal known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership in its current form.
Loebsack, the Democratic Congressman from eastern Iowa who is running for a sixth term, said he understands Iowa’s agriculture economy relies on trade, but says he has too many concerns for the trade deal as written.
Loebsack made the remarks Tuesday as he participated in the Greater Des Moines Partnership’s federal candidate series. The organization is a coalition of central Iowa business, tourism and economic development groups.
Loebsack said he has concerns with the trade deal’s potential impact on workers, that it needs better enforcement and dispute resolution mechanisms, and that it does not address currency manipulation by other countries.
“I understand the arguments,” Loebsack said. “Just for me, on balance, right now, the way this thing is constructed, I would vote no on it.”
President Barack Obama wants Congress to approve the trade deal, but Loebsack said he thinks it’s doubtful it will come up for a vote in the U.S. House this year because there is insufficient support.
Steve King, a northwest Iowa’s Republican Congressman, similarly told the partnership he does not believe the trade deal will be voted on when Congress finishes its work for the year after the election.
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Loebsack’s opponent, Republican challenger Dr. Chris Peters, has said he supports free trade but has not read the entirety of the proposed trade deal.
Among other topics Loebsack broached at Tuesday’s event, he said he supports federal funding to expand high-speed internet access to rural areas, and more local control for educators in compliance with federal education standards.
“It is making sure that those folks who are going to provide it do have the incentives to provide it, and a big part of that is federal funding, there’s no question,” said Loebsack, who is on the telecommunications subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “It’s going to take an investment. There’s no doubt it’s going to take public investment, it’s going to take private investment. We know that for a fact.”