Most Dem reps from Illinois not backing Obama trade pact

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WASHINGTON — With one exception, so far Illinois Democrats in Congress are not backing the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact President Barack Obama is seeking or giving him the power to fast-track the deal.

The Obama White House needs a chunk of Democratic votes to secure the fast-track Trade Promotion Authority and to get the TPP approved. Republicans are expected to provide the majority of the support.

Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., is the only announced Illinois Democratic yes.

“We are 5 percent of the world population. Trade is inevitable. We need to control the process, not China,” Quigley told the Sun-Times.

Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., is a yes. A spokesman for Senate hopeful Rep. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., who is running to replace Kirk, did not reply to emails asking about her position.

Duckworth, I am guessing, is concerned about taking a position that will encourage a Democratic primary challenge — and Rep. Robin Kelly, D-Ill., and Chicago Urban League President and CEO Andrea Zopp are weighing getting into the race. Kelly is against the deal.

It will be political fodder if Kirk backs Obama — and Duckworth does not.

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Rep. Bill Foster, D-Ill., are undecided.

Most of the Illinois GOP House members are leaning toward a yes vote, though some have reservations about the fast-track authority.

On Thursday in Chicago, four Chicago Democrats — Reps. Dan Lipinski, Danny Davis, Bobby Rush and Kelly — will announce their opposition, along with representatives of the United Steelworkers, the United Auto Workers and environmental groups.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., is against the deal. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., is planning to announce his no vote on May 14.

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