House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has now publicly opposed giving President Obama fast track authority on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). In a show of unity with other House Democrats Pelosi announced she would be opposing the current bill promoting TPP at a labor event.
Pelosi is reported to have said “No on Fast Track — Camp-Baucus — out of the question.” Camp-Baucus, named for Representative Dave Camp and Senator Max Baucus, is the current bill to fast track TPP. That members of Congress would write a bill to remove their own authority is puzzling until you realize that the TPP is a corporate coup and that Camp and Baucus are taking oceans of corporate cash.
Pelosi’s opposition to Camp-Baucus, while good news for those opposing TPP, does not necessarily mean she won’t support another version which she opened the door for in her remarks.
This marks a significant hardening of Pelosi’s opposition to the Fast Track Authority bill. It doesn’t entirely rule out the possibility that she could support some version of Fast Track at some point, if its terms are overhauled to deal with her concerns about job loss from currency manipulation, and to create much more transparency around negotiations and give Dems much more input into them. But it creates a hurdle to the free trade measure, because it will be difficult to meet the conditions for supporting Fast Track that Pelosi is now laying down.
Any call for transparency should kill the current TPP effort which has been one of the most secretive in the history of trade agreements. Though TPP is much more than a trade agreement.
Of course Democrats are the minority in the House and the bill could still pass with Republicans support. But with Pelosi backing off Speaker Boehner won’t have any bipartisan cover in passing the controversial bill giving even more power to the Obama Administration.
Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid has already said he opposes fast track authority which means, in theory, the current version of TPP is dead. Fast track authority is necessary to pass TPP because so many awful things are within it that it would be very difficult drive it through Congress any other way. But the game is far from over, so much is on the line that it’s unlikely the corporate forces behind TPP will accept defeat so easily.