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Deal Made On Fast Track Legislation

The bill would deny lawmakers the chance to amend what would be the largest trade deal since the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Deal Made On Fast Track Legislation
Image from: commondreams.org

I'm surprised they didn't do this Friday, to make it harder to mobilize voters. Please continue to call or write your electeds of either party -- there are Republicans who oppose the TPP:

WASHINGTON — The leaders of Congress’s tax-writing committees reached agreement Thursday on legislation to give President Obama “fast track” authority to negotiate an ambitious trade accord with 11 other Pacific nations, beginning what is sure to be one of the toughest legislative battles of his last 19 months in office.

The “trade promotion authority” bill — likely to be unveiled Thursday afternoon — would give Congress the power to vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership once it is completed, but would deny lawmakers the chance to amend what would be the largest trade deal since the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Senator Orrin G. Hatch, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, had to agree to stringent requirements for the trade deal to win over Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the ranking Democrat on the finance panel. Those requirements included a human-rights negotiating objective that has never existed in trade agreements, according to lawmakers involved in the talks.

The legislation would also make any final trade agreement public for 60 days before the president signs it, and up to four months before Congress votes. If the agreement, negotiated by the United States Trade Representative, fails to meet the objectives laid out by Congress — on labor, environmental and human rights standards — a 60-vote majority in the Senate could shut off “fast track” trade rules and open the deal to amendments.

“We got assurances that U.S.T.R. and the president will be negotiating within the parameters defined by Congress,” said Representative Dave Reichert, Republican of Washington and a senior member of the Ways and Means Committee. Referring to the trade promotion authority, he added, “And if those parameters are somehow or in some way violated during the negotiations, if we get a product that’s not adhering to the T.P.A. agreement, then we have switches where we can cut it off.”

Mr. Reichert said the Ways and Means Committee would formally draft the legislation next week.

Even with those concessions, the fight to get the trade promotion bill to the president’s desk will be difficult and emotional, badly dividing the Democratic Party’s labor base and putting Hillary Rodham Clinton in a quandary. Many prominent Democrats have come out against one of the biggest priorities of their president. Representative Sander M. Levin of Michigan, the ranking Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, was notably absent from trade negotiations.

The A.F.L.-C.I.O. and virtually every major union have vowed a fierce fight, including a six-figure advertising campaign to pressure 16 selected senators and 36 House members to oppose trade promotion authority, the A.F.L.-C.I.O. announced on Thursday.

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