Tell Congress: Don’t Put Obama’s Trade Deal on “Fast Track”
Congress is currently striking a deal that will cede more U.S. sovereignty to international authorities and send more American jobs overseas. This week, the House of Representatives and the Senate will each mark up their versions of the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015, otherwise known as Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) or Fast Track Authority. This authority will be the last hurdle for the President to clear before finalizing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) – a deal he has been negotiating in secret over the last six years.
Typically, Fast Track begins with Congress first naming the negotiating partners and providing instructions for a deal. The current situation has turned this process on its head. The president has already chosen the partners and negotiated the agreement in secret. The few chapters that have been leaked are of serious concern – including chapters on immigration, environmental regulations, and much more.
From Bowe Bergdahl to Iran and numerous executive actions, President Obama has proven his inability to negotiate agreements that advance the national interest and has shown his willingness to do whatever it takes to advance his priorities. The White House brags about achieving “the most progressive trade deal in history.” In spite of these warning signs, the Republican-controlled Congress is preparing to work with the President in the name of free trade.
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. If the TPP is as essential to the American economy as its supporters say, it deserves Congress’s full consideration. 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, but as with all trade agreements, the agreement 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.
Although the bills are being marked up in the Committees this week, Members of Congress need to hear from you now! Tell them to vote NO on Fast Track authority when it comes to the floor. President Obama cannot be trusted to negotiate an agreement that advances American interests, and once given Fast Track, it will be hard to stop the final agreement.
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