The U.S. should be writing the new rules for global trade, not China, House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan said Wednesday, ahead of an afternoon trade hearing before his committee and a key trade vote by a Senate panel.
The Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to vote on fast-track trade legislation Wednesday. The bill, which actually puts the White House and Republicans on the same side, would renew presidential authority to present trade deals that Congress can endorse or reject, but not amend.
"This is about more jobs and higher wages," Ryan, R-Wis., told CNBC's "Squawk Box" in an interview. "We need to open up markets to our products, so that we can make more things in American and send them overseas."
President Barack Obama wants the fast-track powers to help push free-trade proposals such as the one being negotiated by the U.S. and 11 Pacific Rim and South American nations. It would be the largest trade pact since the North American Free Trade Agreement went into effect more than two decades ago.
"The rules of the global economy are being rewritten right now," Ryan said. "I would strongly argue if we sit by and do nothing, then China will write the rules of the global economy, particularly in Asia, to China's benefit. And that won't be to the benefit of the American worker."
Labor unions and many liberals, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., oppose the deal, saying it would result in American job losses by making it easier for companies to outsource work and suppress wages.
Obama said in a MSNBC interview Tuesday that Warren and other Democratic opponents are "wrong on this." The trade accord would further shore up America's economy by boosting competition and easing trade tensions, the president argued.
"In this case, I think the president is right," said Ryan, the GOP vice presidential candidate in 2012. "When I think he's right, we're going to support him. And that's why this is a bipartisan effort."
"Our economy is not growing near it's potential," Ryan said. "Getting good trade agreements is about getting a more level playing field for our workers, for our job creators, so we can have more jobs."