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Minnesota Democrats rally against trade deal

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Sen. Al Franken at a rally protesting the Trans-Pacific Partnership in Washington, April 15, 2015. (Brett Neely/MPR News)

WASHINGTON - Minnesota lawmakers argued against the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement at a union rally across the street from the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday.

Congress needs to give the Administration what's known as fast-track authority to finish negotiating the deal though a vote has not yet been scheduled.

With taconite workers getting laid off on the Iron Range due to falling steel prices, DFL Sen. Al Franken said this isn't the time for another trade agreement.

Instead he said the administration should be combating foreign steel companies that he and other Democrats accuse of selling steel at below the cost of production.

"We have to enforce trade agreements. We can't write trade agreements that can't be enforced," said Franken.

DFL U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison argued that the emphasis on free trade deals also risks undermining other liberal priorities.

"You cannot talk about income inequality and push a bad trade deal," said Ellison.

The seven Democratic members of Minnesota's congressional delegation all oppose the TPP while the three Minnesota Republicans in the U.S. House say they back the deal.