On the heels of NAFTA's "20 years of regret" anniversary, U.S. lawmakers are aggressively pushing legislation to fast-track what has been called NAFTA on steroids: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Three powerful lawmakers —House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) — announced legislation (pdf) Thursday that would allow the Obama administration to fast-track approval of this behemoth trade deal.
Known as "trade promotion authority," the legislation would allow the Obama administration to dodge deliberation and amendments from Congress.
Public Citizen summarizes:
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Whether or not the president obtains the listed negotiating objectives, the bill would empower the president to sign a trade pact before Congress votes on it with a guarantee that the executive branch can write legislation to implement the pact and alter wide swaths of existing U.S. law and obtain both House and Senate votes within 90 days. That legislation is not subject to markup and amendment in committee, all amendments are forbidden during floor votes and a maximum of 20 hours of debate is permitted in the House and Senate.
The legislation is being advanced despite broad opposition from within Capitol Hill as well as social justice, labor, and environmental organizations.
“For nearly four years, the U.S. Trade Representative and TPP negotiators have purposely restricted participation and information, keeping members of Congress and citizen groups, unions, environmental and consumer organizations in the dark," said Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen. "There has been no opportunity for public interest groups to meaningfully participate in the negotiations, and under fast track authority, there will be no opportunity for our elected representatives to amend the deal and make it better for Americans."
Said Charles Chamberlain, Executive Director, Democracy for America, "The Trans-Pacific Partnership would be an unmitigated disaster for everything from the environment to internet freedom and working families."
He added, "Let's be clear: A vote for fast track authority on the TPP is a vote for a deal that will hurt hardworking Americans and haunt every single member of Congress, Republican or Democrat, who votes for it."