Don Young & 22 in GOP Oppose TPP Fast Track
“Fast track.” Sounds productive. Sounds exciting. Sounds all, “Git ‘er dun.”
But in reality, what fast track trade authority does is allow a President to sign and enter into a trade agreement before Congress gets to vote on it, have a guaranteed vote within a set number of days, limited debate, and no amendments allowed. Presidents including Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush requested the authority, which has been used 16 times since its inception in the 1970s. And now President Obama would like to have it while negotiating trade agreements via the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). [Here's a quick TPP primer which will get you up to speed in less than 4 horrifying minutes]
If you think the whole “fast track” thing sounds a little hinky, then you are correct. There’s one particular little problem. And it’s called The Constitution, which delegates trade authority to the Congress, not to the President. Say what you will about the current state of Congress, that’s the rule book, and it was written that way for a reason.
“Our nation’s founders wisely gave Congress exclusive authority over trade in the U.S. Constitution,” said Republican Congressman Walter B. Jones (NC-3) “They knew that Congress exercising that authority would provide the best way to grow the economy, create U.S. jobs, and most benefit the American people.”
Jones, and 22 of his Republican congressional colleagues sent a letter to the President today, expressing their strong opposition to Fast Track Trade Authority. One of those signatories was Alaska’s lone Congressman Don Young.
[Letter to President Obama ----> Signed Letter to the President on Fast Track -- 11-13]
“Congressman Young has great concern with the lack of transparency in the ongoing Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations,” Young spokesman Matthew Shuckerow told The Mudflats today. “While most of the details in the agreement are unofficial and unconfirmed, Congressman Young has not been happy with much of what he’s heard in various reports being circulated in the media.
“The Congressman believes a trade agreement of this size must include significant Congressional involvement and input, something the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) substantially lacked before passage in 1994 – resulting in millions of lost jobs across America’s borders. With increased involvement by Congress in TPP discussions, Congressman Young may be forced to vote against the deal, as he did with NAFTA.”
The list of signatories, Congressman Walter B. Jones (NC-3) made sure to indicate in his statement, represent “different parts of the Republican Party,” which is a nice way of saying that there were some representatives who did a little cringy thing when they had to sign underneath the giant “Michele Bachmann” up there on the first line. The list includes establishment Republicans like Don Young and John Mica, Tea Partiers like Michelle Bachman and Steve Stockman, Moderates like Frank LoBiondo and Frank Wolf.
Plus, today a letter signed by most of the Democrats on the Ways and Means Committee was released. It says that the old Fast Track that has been used in the past will not find much support.
“Some of us have opposed past trade deals and some have supported them, but when it comes to Fast Track, members of Congress from across the political spectrum are united,” said Congressman Jones.
He has a point. As much criticism as this Congress has legitimately received for being the least productive in history, this is one time when making sure nothing happens has support from both sides of the aisle, and both “parts” of the Republican Party. When was the last time you heard of anything having significant tri-partisan support?
Next week in Salt Lake City should be the final negotiations on President Obama’s sweeping TPP trade agreement, and the President says that having Fast Track is key to it getting done. It may not be as easy as he had hoped.