With Corporate Deals Shrouded In Secrecy, Lawmakers Call for 'Sunlight'

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With Corporate Deals Shrouded In Secrecy, Lawmakers Call for 'Sunlight'

Reps. introduce legislation to force clandestine agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership into the open

Civil society organizations across the globe have vigorously opposed efforts to ram through closed-door pacts. (Photo: Canadians.org)

Civil society organizations across the globe have vigorously opposed efforts to ram through closed-door pacts. (Photo: Canadians.org)

A bipartisan group of lawmakers unleashed a last-ditch effort on Wednesday to, at the very least, force the administration of President Barack Obama to publicly reveal the contents of corporate-friendly trade deals before attempting to ram them through Congress via controversial Fast Track legislation.

Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) introduced the Trade Review Accountability Needs Sunlight and Preview of Any Regulations and Exact Negotiated Components Resolution on Wednesday. The legislation, which has 16 co-sponsors, "requires any proposed trade deal to be made publicly available for a minimum of 60 days before it can qualify for a vote that would implement Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), sometimes called 'Fast-Track,'" according to an announcement from Kaptur's office.

The proposed legislation comes with the House Fast Track vote just around the corner—possibly by the end of the week. Civil society and social movement organizations across the globe have vigorously opposed this effort to ram through multiple secretive deals currently under negotiation: the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, and Trade in Services Agreement. Grassroots groups warn that the contents of these agreements—or at least what is known of them through leaks—would be a boon to corporate power worldwide, at the expense of people and the planet.

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In a statement announcing Wednesday's legislation, Kaptur declared that the Fast Track legislation, known as Trade Promotion Authority, "has become more of a blank check for the Executive and turned Congress into little more than a rubber stamp." She added that, given their huge impact and scope, "the American people deserve to see what these agreements contain."

This is not the first time such legislation has been introduced. Late last month, Sen. Orrin Hatch blocked a bill sponsored by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) that would have required similar transparency.

While groups pressure lawmakers to vote No on Fast Track, they are also urging them to take transparency into their own hands.

A coalition of organizations, including Communication Workers of America and Just Foreign Policy, released a petition on Wednesday urging Congress to use its power to "declassify and publish the draft Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement."

"Any individual Member of Congress could publish — e.g., by entering into the Congressional Record — a portion of the draft TPP negotiating text, as Republican Congressman Darrel Issa did when he published the intellectual property chapter," the petition states.

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