Free Trade, Superfluous Acronyms and The Environment
Today was a dizzying day in the House of Representatives as they voted on a package of bills associated with trade legislation. The package included the so-called “Fast Track” authority, which would give President Obama authority to negotiate free trade deals such as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) without Congressional input. Sensing how close the vote would be, the president made an unprecedented appearance on Capitol Hill today in an effort to sway Democrats to vote his way.
The House actually voted for president’s Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill (the proper name for Fast Track), which grants him the power to negotiate trade bills without congress. But hold on. Prior to this vote, the House rejected a Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) bill that would have provided assistance to workers and businesses adversely impacted by free trade . Due to House procedural rules, the TAA defeat made the vote on the so-called “fast track” bill that followed only symbolic, so the measure failed.
Equally important was passage of a customs enforcement bill today, which would prevent the United States for considering climate impacts in any trade deals.
The conclusion of today’s dizzying round robin of voting is that the bill to grant Obama fast track authority will be again be voted on as early as next Tuesday. That means there is still time to contact all of your lawmakers in the House and Senate to tell them to kill this bill that would not only give the president too much power over trade deals, but also trade deals that don’t consider impacts to the climate.
Please, call the Capitol Hill switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and leave the following message with your member of Congress:
“As a constituent, I expect you to represent me—and am counting on you to to do the right thing. Please vote “no” on fast track. It will hurt people, the planet and our international climate obligations. I will remember how you vote when you are up for re-election.”