NEW YORK – Republicans in the House are preparing to follow the lead of the White House and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to rubber-stamp the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, the most sweeping free-trade agreement since NAFTA.
The White House seeks to pass it with a simple majority vote, without so much as introducing a single amendment to modify the language of the agreement it has negotiated behind closed doors.
On Jan. 9, 2013, in a little-noticed press release, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., together with ranking member Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich, announced they were introducing “fast track” trade promotion authority legislation as a prelude to bringing up the TPP for expected passage in the near future.
With House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, already deciding to vote with Senate Democrats to grant fast track authority for congressional consideration of the TPP, the only remaining opposition to the bill seems to be coming from House Democrats.
Pressured by labor union constituents, the House Democrats have concluded the massive Trans-Pacific trade deal capitulates to corporate interest groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, placing under international control important U.S. environmental, public-health and labor standards.
The House Democrats are concerned that more U.S. union jobs will be lost in the free-trade “fast track” steamroller Republicans under Boehner and Democrats aligning with Reid plan to run through Congress.
Last year, 151 House Democrats opposed to TPP, led by Reps. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and George Miller, D-Calif., wrote a letter to President Obama stating their opposition to using “outdated ‘Fast Track’ procedures that usurp Congress’ authority over trade matters.”
A statement issued Jan. 9 by DeLauro and Miller, joined by Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-N.Y., referenced last year’s letter and advanced the argument by stating:
“For too long, bad trade deals have allowed corporations to ship good American jobs overseas, and wages, benefits, workplace protections and quality of life have all declined as a result,” DeLauro, Miller and Slaughter said in a joint statement. “That is why there is strong bipartisan opposition to enabling the Executive Branch to ram through far-reaching, secretly negotiated trade deals like the TPP that extend well beyond traditional trade matters. At the core of the Baucus-Camp bill is the same Fast Track mechanism that failed us from 2002-2007.”
The lawmakers said their constituents “did not send us to Washington to ship their jobs overseas, and Congress will not be a rubber stamp for another flawed trade deal that will hang the middle class out to dry.”
“Instead of pursuing the same failed trade policies, we should support American workers by making the necessary investments to compete in today’s global economy,” they wrote.