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The Sacramento Bee | May 15, 2015

Our phones? “Made in China.” Sunglasses? “Made in Italy.” Shirt? “Made in India.” But in other countries, how many goods say “Made in America?”

In a global economy, we need more commerce to increase prosperity. Exports are a pillar of American economic growth. When we aren’t selling our goods in as many markets as possible, our economy is failing to reach its potential.

So the real question is: Will we make sure that “Made in America” is stamped on more products shipped from U.S. ports and made by American workers?

Free trade is one of the few issues that draws the support of Republicans, California Democrats and the president. In times of divided government and when pro-growth policies enjoy bipartisan support, I believe we should act as Reagan did with a Democratic-controlled Congress – move forward.

After the meager economic recovery Americans have felt under the Obama administration, we cannot continue to hold ourselves back for any reason.

After Senate Democrats abandoned the president earlier this week by blocking a vote on bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority legislation, they came back to their previous commitment and agreed to proceed on the bill. Yet other California Democrats in the House now appear ready to leave the president out to dry on one of the biggest pieces of his economic agenda.

But we must remember the economic facts. By embracing free and open trade with our allies and by giving Congress a strong voice in how trade deals are negotiated, Californians can count on more jobs and more markets for their goods.

Every time a student in Sydney buys a Macbook designed by Californian engineers, or a family in Tokyo eats oranges grown by Central Valley farmers, there are more jobs and higher wages for California’s workers.

California is America’s largest exporter of agricultural goods. The ports in Oakland, Los Angeles, Long Beach and San Diego are among the busiest in the world.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership currently being negotiated would open up new markets to nearly every top buyer of California goods, which means even more exports. But to complete this agreement, Congress must pass Trade Promotion Authority. Without it, our partners won’t have the assurances that the deal they negotiate with America is the deal they will get, and the administration won’t be required to operate with the greatest possible transparency that Congress is demanding.

And, as always, Congress reserves its constitutional right to accept or reject any deal.

California has always embraced the world and still has the potential to stand at the forefront of a 21st century global economy. Our workers, our businesses and our farmers need free trade so that they can have the greatest opportunity for prosperity.