Wednesday, November 13, 2013

151 House Dems Tell Obama "We Won't Fast-Track TPP"

Earlier today, Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) and George Miller (CA-11) led a group of 151 Democrats, 3/4 of the caucus, in expressing their concern with the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiation process and opposing the fast-track authority that the president wants for the final deal.

The text of their letter is below:
Dear President Obama: We write to express our serious concern with the ongoing negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Free Trade Agreement (FTA), a potential agreement of tremendous consequence for our country. Specifically, we remain deeply troubled by the continued lack of adequate congressional consultation in many areas of the proposed pact that deeply implicates Congress’ constitutional and domestic policy authorities.

For some time, members of Congress have urged your administration to engage in broader and deeper consultations with members of the full range of committees of Congress whose jurisdiction touches on the numerous issues being negotiated.  Many have raised concerns relating to reports about the agreement’s proposed content.  While your Administration’s goal was to sign a TPP FTA at the October 2013 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, we believe that to date the process has failed to provide adequate consultation with Congress.
Such opportunity for input from Congress is critical as the TPP FTA will include binding obligations that touch upon a wide swath of policy matters under the authority of Congress.

Beyond traditional tariff issues, these include policies related to labor, patent and copyright, land use, food, agriculture and product standards, natural resources, the environment, professional licensing, competition, state-owned enterprises and government procurement policies, as well as financial, healthcare, energy, e-commerce, telecommunications and other service sector regulations.  

In light of the broad scope of today’s trade agreements, it is even more vital that Congress have a fulsome role in shaping these pacts’ terms. Given our concerns, we will oppose  “Fast Track” Trade Promotion Authority or any other mechanism delegating Congress’ constitutional authority over trade policy that continues to exclude us from having a meaningful role in the formative stages of trade agreements and throughout negotiating and approval processes.

Congress, not the Executive Branch, must determine when an agreement meets the objectives Congress sets in the exercise of its Article I-8 exclusive constitutional authority to set the terms of trade.   For instance, an agreement that does not specifically meet congressional negotiating objectives must not receive preferential consideration in Congress.  A new trade agreement negotiation and approval process that restores a robust role for Congress is essential to achieving U.S. trade agreements that can secure prosperity for the greatest number of Americans, while preserving the vital tenets of American democracy in the era of globalization.

Twentieth Century “Fast Track” is simply not appropriate for 21st Century agreements and must be replaced.  The United States cannot afford another trade agreement that replicates the mistakes of the past. We can and must do better.

We are deeply committed to transforming U.S. trade policy into a tool for creating and retaining family-wage jobs in America, safeguarding the environment, maintaining consumer protection and improving the quality of life throughout the country.   We look forward to working with you to ensure that Congress and the Executive Branch are working together to meet that critical goal.

It's easier for me to list the Democrats who did not sign than to list those that did. So, here you have the list of the Democrats who DID NOT SIGN the letter.

Mike Thompson (CA-05)
Doris Matsui (CA-06)
Ami Bera (CA-07)
Nancy Pelosi (CA-12)
Jim Costa (CA-16)
Tony Cardenas (CA-29)
Xavier Becerra (CA-34)
Susan Davis (CA-53)
Dian DeGette (CO-01)
Jared Polis (CO-02)
Ed Perlmutter (CO-07)
John Larson (CT-01)
Jim Himes (CT-04)
John Carney (DE-AL)
Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23)
Joe Garcia (FL-26)
John Barrow (GA-12)
Mike Quigley (IL-05)
Tammy Duckworth (IL-08)
Bradley Schneider (IL-10)
Bill Foster (IL-11)
Cedric Richmond (LA-02)
Steny Hoyer (MD-05)
John Delaney (MD-06)
Chris Van Hollen (MD-08)
Richard Neal (MA-01)
Mike Capuano (MA-07)
Sander Levin (MI-09)
Lacy Clay (MO-01)
Gregory Meeks (NY-05)
Charlie Rangel (NY-13)
Joe Crowley (NY-14)
David Price (NC-04)
Mel Watt (NC-12)
Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01)
Earl Blumenauer (OR-03)
Jim Cooper (TN-05)
Pete Gallego (TX-23)
Henry Cuellar (TX-28)
Marc Veasey (TX-33)
Jim Matheson (UT-04)
Jim Moran (VA-08)
Gerry Connolly (VA-11)
Suzan DelBene (WA-01)
Rick Larsen (WA-02)
Derek Kilmer (WA-06)
Adam Smith (WA-09)
Denny Heck (WA-10)
Ron Kind (WI-03)

If your representative is not on the list, give him or her a call.

This letter came on the same day that Wikileaks released the text of one of the most controversial chapters of the TPP, that dealing with intellectual property rights. The chapter reveals the US's efforts to restrict Internet freedom and access to lifesaving medicines throughout the Asia-Pacific region as well as at home.

In a press release, Public Citizen minced no words in its condemnation of the TPP:
"The Obama administration’s proposals are the worst--the most damaging for health–-we have seen in a U.S. trade agreement to date. The Obama administration has backtracked from even the modest health considerations adopted under the Bush administration,” said Peter Maybarduk, director of Public Citizen’s global access to medicines program. “The Obama administration’s shameful bullying on behalf of the giant drug companies would lead to preventable suffering and death in Asia -Pacific countries. And soon the administration is expected to propose additional TPP terms that would lock Americans into high prices for cancer drugs for years to come.” ...

“This supposed trade negotiation has devolved into a secretive rulemaking against public health, on behalf of Big Pharma and Big Tobacco,” said Maybarduk. “We understand that the only consideration the Obama administration plans to propose for access to affordable generic medicines is a very weak form of differential treatment for developing countries,” said Maybarduk.

“It is clear from the text obtained by WikiLeaks that the U.S. government is isolated and has lost this debate,” Maybarduk said. “Our partners don’t want to trade away their people’s health. Americans don’t want these measures either. Nevertheless, the Obama administration – on behalf of Big Pharma and big movie studios – now is trying to accomplish through pressure what it could not through persuasion.”

“The WikiLeaks text also features Hollywood and recording industry-inspired proposals – think about the SOPA debacle – to limit Internet freedom and access to educational materials, to force Internet providers to act as copyright enforcers and to cut off people’s Internet access,” said Burcu Kilic, an intellectual property lawyer with Public Citizen. “These proposals are deeply unpopular worldwide and have led to a negotiation stalemate.”
Remember how candidate Obama campaigned against NAFTA, calling its effects "devastating," and then switched his position a few months later?

1 comment:

  1. Are there any late comers to the list? The vote is this week — we must go all out to block this thing. How is Fast Track not unconstitutional? How can the requirement of Article II Sec, 2 Clause 2 "He [the president] shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur;" be reduced to a simple majority vote without a Constitutional Amendment?

    And even ignoring the ratio, is the phrase "with the Advice" of none effect?