By Anne Caruso, NEOSC Fracking Chairperson
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a multi-national trade treaty being negotiated behind closed doors by national and corporate representatives. It includes the U.S., Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. (A similar treaty, the TTIP, is being drawn up to include European and other countries.) Among other provisions, the TPP would establish a tribunal of corporate lawyers who would have sole authority to rule on disputes between nations and corporations. National labor or environmental laws could be challenged on the grounds that they impede corporate right to profit.
The fact that it is being negotiated in secret is very troubling. Supporters of the TPP insist it will bring other countries up to U.S. labor and environmental standards. But we will have to take their word for it. Our legislators are prohibited from reading the full treaty. Some have been given the privilege of seeing parts of it but without the right to take notes, take pictures or to have their aides with them.
On April 16, 2015, Orrin Hatch (R- Utah) introduced a bill to Fast Track this treaty and other trade deals for the next 6 years. Fast Track calls for an up or down vote on the treaty with only limited debate and without the ability to offer amendments. The U.S. Constitution assigns Congress the authority to enter into trade treaties. Fast Track is a way to skirt Congressional scrutiny and give that authority to the Executive branch. President Obama is a strong supporter of the TPP and of Fast Track. Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch explains it this way:
“Congress is being asked to delegate away its constitutional trade authority over the TPP, even after the administration ignored bicameral, bipartisan demands about the agreement’s terms, and then also grant blank-check authority to whomever may be the next president for any agreements he or she may pursue.”
As of this writing the Hatch bill was voted out of the Senate Committee which moves it forward to a vote in the full Senate. There are many on both sides of the aisle in Congress who oppose Fast Track. It’s important that our legislators hear from us.
What you can do.
Attend the Forum on Trade Policy on Monday, May 4, 2015, 11am – 12 pm with Senator Sherrod Brown at the USW Local 979 Hall, 3421 Independence Road, Cleveland, 44105.
Sign the “Oppose Fast Track” letter to your legislators at https://secure.sierraclub.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=12351
Make an additional contact to Senator Portman and urge him not to vote for Fast Track.
Learn how the TPP threatens our jobs, health, environment and democracy at http://www.citizen.org/TPP.