House Democrats Warn Hillary Clinton to Be 'Very Explicit' on Trade

Progressive Reps. Raúl Grijalva and Keith Ellison on Hillary Clinton and 2016.

— -- Power Players

Senate Democrats blocked a motion this week to proceed with President Obama’s proposed trade agreement, known as the Trans-Pacific-Partnership (TPP). And although they reached an agreement with the president Wednesday afternoon to “fast-track” the trade deal forward, the issue remains a controversial one.

“If we're going to win in 2016 and retain the presidency, Hillary and all the candidates running for it are going to have to be very explicit with the American people – and certainly with the Democratic base – about trade, about jobs and about wages,” Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz, told “Power Players” in a recent interview with his colleague Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn.

The two co-chair the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

“If you can't talk explicitly about those, our base is not going to have the energy, the desire, or put a lot of hope into the candidates,” he added. “I think Hillary needs to be more explicit, I think she's beginning to do that, and we look forward to more detail, because I think that only helps us into '16.”

Ellison mirrored the sentiment, explaining, “I believe that Hillary Clinton cares about working people, it would be helpful if she were more definitive on the transpacific partnership.”

“People know that part of the reason their wages have stagnated and their jobs are gone is because of these trade deals that have not worked for American workers; it's going to make a difference,” he said. “I can tell you it's applause line at a rally to say, 'We're going to make sure that these trade deals work for American workers.’”

For Grijalva’s part, the House Democrat warned members of his party running in 2016 not to make the same mistake twice in ignoring the issue. “We'll repeat 2014,” he said. “We didn't have an economic agenda, we didn't talk directly to the base, and we paid the price for it.”

On the power progressive candidates who have to create real change in the 2016, Ellison implored those running to consider a group of core, key issues.

“Here's a chance for us to shape this country in a way for shared prosperity, so that we can do something about student debt,” he said. “We can get more project labor agreements and good collective bargaining rights for workers. This is an opportunity,” Ellison added.

Agreeing with his colleague, Grijalva explained, “This is an opportunity to invest in American people … it's a great opportunity, as Keith said, and we hope to energize our base, people that believe in our ideals and get them to vote and make a tremendous change in [2016.]”

For more of the interview with Reps. Ellison and Grijalva, including their main points of contention regarding the president’s proposed trade agreement, watch this episode of “Power Players.”

ABC News’ Michael Falcone, Tom Thornton and Michelle Manzione contributed to this episode.