A fast-track trade proposal has critics from both the left and the right incensed for not only the merits of its policy, but how negotiations have proceeded – in secret.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would give President Obama more authority to settle trade agreements with 11 other nations in South America and the Pacific Rim, NBC News notes. The Daily Caller points out the other countries involved:
- New Zealand
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan was in Washington last week promoting the merits of TPP. “The TPP goes far beyond just economic benefits. It is also about our security. Long-term, its strategic value is awesome. We should never forget that,” Abe told a joint session of Congress, according to The New York Times. “We must turn the area into a region for lasting peace and prosperity. “That is for the sake of our children and our children’s children.”
A bipartisan bill pending in the Senate sponsored by Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., would give the president authority to make trade agreements with the aforementioned countries while facing Congressional approval, Vox reported. No amendments can be made in the Senate to the president’s deals, however.
Negotiations over the TPP have been shrouded in secrecy. Edward-Isaac Dovere gave the staggering details Monday: “If you want to hear the details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal the Obama administration is hoping to pass, you’ve got to be a member of Congress, and you’ve got to go to classified briefings and leave your staff and cellphone at the door.”
If you’re a member who wants to read the text, you’ve got to go to a room in the basement of the Capitol Visitor Center (CVC) and be handed it one section at a time, watched over as you read, and forced to hand over any notes you make before leaving.
Staunch liberal Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., lamented these terms. “It’s like being in kindergarten,” DeLauro told Politico. “You give back the toys at the end.” Dovere’s report added that no details can be discussed once you leave the CVC basement.
DeLauro’s colleague in the House, Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, points the finger squarely at United States Trade Representative Mike Froman, the pointman on the classified briefings for the secrecy. “The access to information is totally at the whim of Ambassador Froman,” Doggett said. “He likes to make available information that he thinks helps his case, and if it conflicts, then he doesn’t make the information available.”
Stopfasttrack.com notes a number of left-leaning organizations that oppose TPP, including the AFL-CIO, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Moveon.org, to name a few.
Earlier this year, The Tea Party Patriots and Americans for Limited Government issued a statement slamming TPP, Law360 reported. “President Obama has seized power time and again, and Congress has effectively thrown up its hands in despair,” they wrote.
Denying him Fast Track Authority sends a clear message that enough is enough. It tells this president that Congress will stand up for itself as a co-equal branch of government and engage in a thorough and complete examination of any agreements that he signs.
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