April 27, 2015

STOP Fast Track Trade AuthorityYour elected representatives in the House and Senate need to hear from you. Last week, the House of Representatives and the Senate marked up their versions of the Fast Track bill that paves the way for President Obama to close the trade deal he has been negotiating over the last 6 years. They are being sold a bill of goods by the globalist, establishment types who believe so-called “free trade” is more important than defeating President Obama’s priorities.

We know that the Trans-Pacific Partnership, for which President Obama is seeking Fast Track authority, has not been negotiated with the national interest in mind and contains several concerning chapters dealing with issues like immigration and climate change. This should come as no surprise.

Even Senator Jim DeMint of The Heritage Foundation noted in his speech at the Iowa Freedom Summit, “The Washington establishment, the K Street lobbyists, and all their big government cronies think they won last year’s election. They think they defeated the Tea Party and all the conservatives in the primaries… And now, they want their payback. They want… their trade deals that have less to do with free trade than trading favors.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is almost done, and as this article notes, the other countries are not willing to move forward until President Obama receives Fast Track authority from Congress. This means he will have the legitimate unfettered authority to finish the negotiations that he has already been using illegitimately throughout the entirety of the process. As we noted in our last alert, it will be hard to stop the final trade deal should Congress give the President Fast Track authority.

While Fast Track authority has been used with almost all of the free trade agreements the U.S. has entered, Congress usually initiates the negotiations by setting the trading partners and the negotiating instructions through Fast Track. As you can imagine, that has not been the case with the Obama Administration.

Unfortunately, this is an issue where Republican Members of Congress are willing to set aside their principles, their constitutional authority, and the obvious warning signs in the name of “free trade.” Of course, this is not an actual free trade agreement but would be more appropriately called a “government-managed, crony-capitalist trade agreement,” as Kevin Kearns of the U.S. Business and Industry Council notes.

If fast-track authority is granted, not one word of the finished deal can be changed by Congress – it gets only an up or down vote. Here are a few reasons Senators and Representatives should say NO to Fast Track:

  • The U.S. already trades with all of the nations in TPP and has formal agreements with 7 of them. Congress should wait until we have a president we can trust.
  • TPP will place more American workers in competition with cheap foreign labor. Democrats worked out a deal with Republican leaders to re-authorize an ineffective government program, Trade Adjustment Assistance, for those whose jobs are displaced.
  • There is no evidence that TPP will greatly benefit our economy. Although the agreement is almost 40% of international GDP, the U.S. makes up 60% of that total.
  • We should not be formally opening our markets to countries like Vietnam, a serial human-rights violator, and Brunei, which operates under Sharia law, until they change their actions.
  • Proponents of Fast Track claim that U.S. law cannot be changed without congressional consent and that there are “sovereignty provisions” in the proposed fast track bill. But, as with all trade agreements, the final up/down vote will include “implementing legislation” — the changes made to U.S. law to conform to the agreement’s provisions.
  • Members of Congress from both parties have repeatedly told the executive branch to stop negotiating immigration provisions in trade deals, but an entire section in TPP deals with business-entry visas.
  • Of even more concern is the “living agreement” provision: any provision in TPP can be changed at any time and any country can join. Congress could approve a deal and then see it changed with no way to protest.

Right now, it looks like Republican Leadership and the President have the votes to pass Fast Track. We must stop them! The bill is expected to be on the floor in May, starting in the Senate and then the House. Tell your representatives to vote NO on Fast Track authority for the president when it comes to the floor. President Obama cannot be trusted to negotiate a deal that advances American interests, and once given Fast Track, it will be hard to stop the final agreement.

Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121


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