According to a letter obtained by Firedoglake, 12 United States Senators have written a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to convey their opposition to the “prospect of renewing Trade Promotion Authority” or fast track authority. Specifically mentioned in the context of that opposition is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Two trade bills that shred national sovereignty as well as labor, environmental, and financial regulations passed in democratic governments.
The letter lays out a case for the use of fast track trade authority being antiquated and not appropriate for the 21st century. The senators want a new trade negotiation and approval process more “consistent with the constitutional role of Congress in trade.”
The fast track process essentially bypasses the normal rules of Congress in order to prevent alterations to an agreement that was already negotiated by members of the executive branch. Fast tracking a bill is a strategy by the president to marginalize congressional influence. Something the authors of the letter take issue with.
TPP and TTIP are not just any trade agreements. They substantively alter American democracy by removing power from Washington and placing it with corporate tribunals. This suspension of democratic accountability and oversight will allow transnational corporations to supersede nation-states as the most powerful legal entities in the world in economic decision making. Some may argue this already exists in fact, but if TPP and TTIP are passed it will also exist in law.
Needless to say, many in the legislative branch believe they should be involved before such sweeping legislation is passed.
The letter also noted that previous trade bills have been detrimental to workers and national competitiveness. The harm done to America’s manufacturing sector was specifically mentioned with the assertion that trade deals have hurt not helped American companies. The senators then listed precisely what they would want from a trade deal:
We believe any package should include provisions to address currency manipulation, stronger mechanisms to address unfair labor practices, the ability of communities to preserve their values, strong trade enforcement policies and should provide innovative solutions to finance improvements to our crumbling infrastructure.
That is not in any way, shape, or form what TPP and TTIP are about. If anything the goals articulated by the senators in their letter to Majority Leader Reid are in direct opposition to TPP and TTIP which are trade deals designed to further the Neoliberal project by promoting unfair labor practices, annihilating native communities’ ability to preserve their values and paralyzing any action from national governments to regulate business.
The letter is signed by Senators Al Franken, Tammy Baldwin, Elizabeth Warren, Christopher Murphy, Bernie Sanders, Tom Harkin, Carl Levin, Jeff Merkely, Jack Reed, Richard Blumenthal, Edward Markey, and Sheldon Whitehouse – all Democrats with the exception of Sanders.
Senate Majority Leader Reid has yet to issue a response.