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Senator Dick Durbin

Senator Dick Durbin has joined Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in opposing fast track trade authority for the Transpacific Partnership (TPP) as well as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Durbin’s opposition could signal the beginning of the end for the agreements as now prominent Democratic leaders in both the Senate and House are opposing giving the Obama Administration fast track trade authority for the controversial agreements.

The deals are extremely unpopular among the Democratic Party base due to their design to bypass sovereign governments in order to promote a corporate agenda that includes re-deregulating Wall Street, shredding labor and environmental protections, and destroying internet freedom to protect copyright privileges.

“I have always been critical and skeptical of fast-tracking,” Durbin said. “It is a take-it-or-leave-it approach to trade agreements which really deals members of Congress and their concerns out of the picture.”…

“I think Harry Reid’s statement was unequivocal, and that makes it very unlikely the president will be able to move this this year,” Durbin said.

Fast track authority would allow President Obama to bypass Congress to pass the agreements, preventing members of Congress from offering amendments on the wide ranging trade agreements.

Much of the negotiations have been kept secret from Congress as well as the American people. If President Obama were given fast track authority Congress would be surrendering their powers without even being asked for the privilege.

Durbin said he has heard from Boeing, Caterpillar and other major Illinois exporters on the issue. Meanwhile, “many people who picket me say, ‘Vote against it.’ And I’ll go up to them and say, ‘What part do you disagree with?’ And they’ll say, ‘Fast-track.’ And I’ll say, ‘No, that’s the process. What substantive part do you disagree with?’ And they’ll say, ‘We don’t know because we don’t know what it’s in it.’ And that’s the reality most of us face.”

And of course the reason the negotiations are being kept secret is because they favor corporate power at the expense of workers, the environment, and freedom of expression. TPP even allegedly has “corporate tribunals” to settle disputes between countries (no need for real courts), it’s NAFTA on steroids and will represent the coup de grâce for democratic accountability of transnational corporations.

Which is to say, without the ability to fast track the process it’s going to be hard to get through this corporate coup. If the Democrats hold firm and keep fast track off the table TPP may be going nowhere.

Photo by Daniel Schwen under Creative Commons license.