Congress has approved fast track authority (TPA) for the president so he can negotiate the Trans Pacific Partnership Treaty – a 12-country trade pact – and then turn it back over to Congress for a straight up-and-down vote by both houses once the treaty is finalized. The process – TPA – has become routine. Without it, every single aspect of the treaty would be negotiated by 535 members of Congress and it wouldn’t work.
The only thing holding up fast track is the TAA, the welfare bill portion – the payoff to unions.
People are being called protectionists for having concerns about the negotiator – Obama – and about the treaty itself.
Since people have not seen the draft of the TPP treaty itself and only 4 chapters of the draft have been leaked by Wikileaks, there probably is a lot of misinformation.
The treaty gives the U.S. an opportunity to to lead in global commerce, it can shape new rules for an era of free trade and healthy competition – maybe.
The TPA, which is only a process, and which allegedly controls Obama, is a list of suggestions for Obama and it allows the president to negotiate on his own. It’s fast track, limited debate, no markup, and a 50% vote of both houses for approval.
TPA applies the Implementation Law which is an omnibus bill written by the president without congress that harmonizes U.S. law with foreign law after the treaty is passed. It appears that Obama will be able to rewrite U.S. laws and regulations considering sovereignty, food safety, immigration, human rights, climate change and other U.S. policy items.
Congress will vote on it but any of our trade partners who disagree could sue and complain to the WTO who can then force Congress to pass that law under the weight of penalties.
The Congressional Research Service explains the section that requires U.S. laws be harmonized with foreign laws:
Would legislation implementing the terms of a trade agreement submitted under the TPA supersede existing law?
If the implementing legislation amends or changes U.S. law, then it would supersede existing U.S. law. However, under previous grants of TPA, changes to U.S. law made by an implementing bill are to be “necessary or appropriate” to implement the commitments under the trade agreement. TPA-2015 changes this provision to “strictly necessary or appropriate.”
What happens if a U.S. law violates a U.S. trade agreement?
In general, if the United States does adopt an agreement with foreign countries, it would be bound by international law under the agreement. If a federal, state, or local law is found to be in violation of the free trade agreement, then the United States could be subject to removal of some benefits under the agreement, such as an increase in tariffs on its products, through a potential dispute resolution with a challenging country. The federal, state, or local government potentially would have to amend the law that is inconsistent with the trade agreement in order for the United States to avoid removal of benefits under the international agreement, but is not required to do so
“Strictly necessary or appropriate” means something very different to Barack Obama from previous presidents.
Thousands of regulations could be written based on these new laws that harmonize with these laws and this could happen while Obama’s in office or with a President Hillary. It will be like Obamacare which started out as a 2,000+ page bill but then became 10,000 pages of regulations.
Obama could use the executive to rewrite the laws and ignore Congress altogether.
It doesn’t help that Barack Obama during two recent interviews talked about how he could implement his climate change agenda under TPP. On the White House website, he calls it “the most progressive trade agreement in history”.
The TPA, which must be passed for TPP to be fast tracked, has been passed twice. The TAA has not passed yet but is up for a vote on Thursday. TAA is a union welfare bill that can stop TPA which will then slow down the TPP.
Paul Ryan believes TPP will give the U.S. the power to have a strong say in global commerce. Hundreds of deals are being signed without us throughout the world, he says, and we have to get on board. However, the nonpartisan Public Citizen reports that it extends NAFTA which is superseded by TPP and which has, according to some experts, cost millions of U.S. jobs. Americans for Limited Government believe it will negatively impact American jobs.
Ryan states further that TPA strengthens transparency and accountability yet the draft of the TPP is hidden under lock and key, causing some concerns.
There are other issues concerning TISA and TTIP which together with TPP might set up a framework for global governance as Sen. Jeff Sessions has warned.
Most congressmen have not yet read the draft of TPP and people don’t trust them either.
Please call your representative and tell him or her to vote NO on TPA when it comes up on Thursday.
Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121
More information at the Coalition for a Strong America