WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, believes sexism might have played a part in President Barack Obama’s critical comments toward Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., over trade legislation that failed in the Senate Tuesday.
Brown, who was against the president’s trade bill with Asian nations, told Politico that Obama’s comments in a recent interview regarding Warren were “disrespectful” and believed her gender played a part.
“I think just by calling her ‘another politician,’” Brown told Politico. “I’m not going to get into more details. I think referring to her as first name, when he might not have done that for a male senator, perhaps? I’ve said enough.”
In a weekend interview with Yahoo Politics, the president said Warren is factually wrong and politically motivated in fighting his efforts to obtain “fast track” authority to negotiate trade agreements that Congress can accept or reject but not change.
“Elizabeth is, you know, a politician like everybody else,” Obama said. “She’s got a voice that she wants to get out there. And I understand that. And on most issues, she and I deeply agree. On this one, though, her arguments don’t stand the test of fact and scrutiny.”
Brown says Obama made it personal with Warren.
“I think the president was disrespectful to her by the way he did that,” Brown told Politico. “I think that the president has made this more personal than he needed to.”
Obama said Warren is particularly wrong in criticizing an element of trade deals called investor-state dispute settlement, or ISDS. The process allows foreign companies to sue national governments in special tribunals if the companies feel they were harmed by violations of free-trade agreements. Warren and others say ISDS can let multinational corporations seek huge payments from countries while sidestepping traditional courts.
Obama disputed that in the Yahoo interview. “There is no chance, zero chance, that the U.S. would be sued on something like our financial regulations, and on food safety, and on the various environmental regulations that we have in place, mainly because we treat everybody the same,” he said. “We treat our own companies the same way we treat somebody else’s companies.”
Every Democratic senator except one, Delaware’s Tom Carper, voted against moving forward on legislation Tuesday to award Obama “fast track” authority to negotiate trade deals that can pass Congress without being amended. The vote failed 52-45, falling eight short of the 60 votes needed and dealing a stinging setback to the centerpiece of Obama’s second-term economic agenda, his hopes for a landmark pact with Asian nations.