Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

Trade Promotion Authority, or 'Fast Track,' passed in the U.S. Senate on Friday, marking a huge blow to those who say it would endanger the economy and workers' rights. (Photo: Getty Images)

Senate Passes Fast Track Bill as Opposition Readies for Showdown

Bill will now move to U.S. House of Representatives, where opposition to Trade Promotion Authority is stronger

Nadia Prupis

At the tail end of a frenzied legislative week, the U.S. Senate quietly voted to pass Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), also known as "Fast Track," a bill that would give President Barack Obama increased power to ram through trade deals without congressional input.

The Senate voted 62-37 to approve a six-year renewal of Fast Track authority. The vote was expected, coming just days after the Senate voted to end debate over the legislation and move forward with the bill, which will now go to the U.S. House for what the Associated Press says will be a "highly unpredictable summer showdown".

About 20 Democrat-backed amendments to the legislation failed along the way, frustrating senators who oppose Fast Track as a threat to the economy and workers' rights. "We're not going to do that," Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), a lead sponsor of Fast Track, said of the amendments. "Let's face it, we're not going to debate this all over again."

As Common Dreams has previously reported, "Environmental, labor, food safety, public health, and digital rights groups oppose Fast Track on the grounds that it forces Congress to abdicate its policy-making responsibility while greasing the skids for secretly negotiated, corporate-friendly, rights-trampling trade pacts like the TPP [Trans-Pacific Partnership]. "

They continued to voice that opposition on Saturday. In a statement following the vote, CREDO Action deputy political director Murshed Zaheed said that supporters of Fast Track and the TPP should expect even greater resistance as those bills move forward.

"The fate of this legislation was always going to be decided in the House of Representatives—and CREDO Action members are ready to fight against it," Zaheed said. "Thanks to the activism of hundreds of thousands of Americans, President Obama and Mitch McConnell found the path to passage of fast track in the Senate was more difficult than they anticipated. They should expect an even more difficult fight in the House of Representatives."

According to The Hill, "Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who led the opposition of liberal Democrats in the upper chamber, has already met Democratic House allies such as Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Mass.) to build a roadblock."

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is running for president as a Democrat, lambasted the Senate's vote on Saturday. "The Senate just put the interests of powerful multi-national corporations, drug companies and Wall Street ahead of the needs of American workers," Sanders said in a statement. "If this disastrous trade agreement is approved, it will throw Americans out of work while companies continue moving operations and good-paying jobs to low-wage countries overseas," he continued, referring to Obama's plan to use Fast Track authority to expedite passage of the TPP.

"Bad trade deals like the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership are a major reason for the collapse of the American middle class and the increase in wealth and income inequality in the United States," Sanders said.

The Hill reports that the 14 Democrats who voted in favor of Fast Track are Sens. Michael Bennet (Colo.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Ben Cardin (Md.), Tom Carper (Del.), Chris Coons (Del.), Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Tim Kaine (Va.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Patty Murray (Wash.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Mark Warner (Va.) and Fast Track co-author Ron Wyden (Ore.).

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Tax the Rich,' Say Millionaire Activists Protesting at Davos Amid Record Wealth, Inequality

"As someone who has enjoyed the benefits of wealth my whole life I know how skewed our economy is and I cannot continue to sit back and wait for someone, somewhere, to do something," said one demonstrator.

Brett Wilkins ·

Rights Group Urges Civilian Safeguards as Biden Sends Troops Back to Somalia

"A culture of impunity for civilian loss breeds resentment and mistrust among the population and undermines efforts to build a more rights-respecting state," Human Rights Watch's regional director asserted.

Brett Wilkins ·

Australian Progressives Hail 'Greenslide' Amid Big Left Wins and Morrison's Ouster

"People have backed the Greens in record numbers and delivered a massive mandate for action on climate and inequality," said party leader Adam Bandt.

Brett Wilkins ·

Omar Leads Charge Against Baby Formula Monopolies Amid US Shortage

Democrats urge the FTC to probe "any unfair or unsustainable practices, like deceptive marketing, price gouging, and stock buybacks, that may be weakening our nutritional formula supply."

Jessica Corbett ·

'Arbitrary, Racist, and Unfair': Judge Blocks Biden From Ending Title 42

"Only the coyotes profiteering off of people seeking protection have reason to celebrate this ill-reasoned ruling," said one migrant rights advocate.

Brett Wilkins ·

Common Dreams Logo