Closing arguments against fast-track

On Friday, there will likely be a vote on fast-tracking President Obama’s most progressive trade deal(s) in history. Here is why the House should vote no on granting the president what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called “an enormous grant of power.”

{mosads}1. Obama is a terrible negotiator, so he needs full oversight. Remember the Iranian nuclear deal, the China climate deal, the Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl release deal? These are just three examples that prove a simple fact: Obama is not a very good negotiator when it comes to representing U.S. interests. Fast-track trade authority denies Congress the capacity to amend Obama’s vision for the world’s economy while virtually assuring passage through the lower vote threshold.

2. The already-negotiated Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) creates a new international structure that supercedes U.S. law. Here is what Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) wrote:

When the Senate voted on fast-track, many Senators were unaware that they were voting to authorize the President to form a new transnational governance structure. The Trans-Pacific Partnership resembles a treaty more than a trade deal. And like a treaty, it confers the power to both compel and restrict changes to U.S. policy, to commit the U.S. to new international obligations, and to cede sovereign authority to a foreign body. Specifically, TPP calls for the formation of a permanent political and economic union known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Commission, which will have the power to issue regulations impacting not only trade but immigration, the environment, labor, and commerce. This global union would be able to add new member countries and, because TPP is a “living agreement,” it will be able to change the agreement after its ratification.

This makes what may be benign-looking sections on climate change and other items only placeholders to be filled after ratification.

3. Fast-track language creating objectives for any treaty are only suggestions which can be ignored by the president. Congress can offer advice, but only the president can negotiate the terms of a treaty or trade deal and is free to accept or reject said advice. A bipartisan majority of both Houses of Congress sent this president a letter in 2013 urging that currency manipulation be included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Yet in spite of this advice, the president is not including currency issues in TPP. The negotiating objectives section of the fast-track bill can be similarly ignored. Many a leadership aide has been heard to bemoan that Obama really doesn’t care what they think; what makes them think this time will be different?

4. Congress has less recourse under fast-track when the president ignores their advice than they would should it fail. Under fast-track, Congress cannot amend a treaty that the president submits, they cannot delay it, and it is guaranteed to only need a simple majority threshold for passage. The only other recourse is to hope that fast-track’s primary advocate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), will see the error of his ways and rescind it, hardly a likelihood. Given Obama’s history of ignoring and in fact, despising Congress, and his horrific record in negotiating foreign deals, it requires an enormous leap of faith to believe that this time will be different. Of course, Charlie Brown still tries to kick the football with Lucy holding it — but we know how that always works out.

5. Only five out of 29 sections of TPP deal with trade. The TPP rewrites the rules for the world’s economy. As Congress is finding out with the need to rescind the country-of-origin-labeling requirements due to World Trade Organization (WTO) rulings, fast-tracking TPP is a major step toward the democratically elected members of Congress ceding their basic legislative functions to the whim of international trade partners.

6. The whole purpose of TPP is to harmonize regulations and laws between countries. It should not come as any surprise that nasty little inconveniences like laws passed by Congress and regulations established by duly elected officials of the United States would be steamrolled by a fast-tracked TPP. I dislike almost everything the Obama administration has done, and I don’t want Obama institutionalizing these transformations by rewriting TPP to incorporate them prior to his leaving office, but that is a U.S. internal problem and our laws should not be contravened by someone like the Sharia-law practicing sultan of Brunei.

Congress will be voting on fast-tracking TPP, as well as agreements with Europe and a worldwide services agreement known as the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), which has extensive immigration language. Ultimately, the question is: Do you trust any president with the power to remake U.S. law through a living agreement, and will Congress trust any president with the power to add new countries to a massive, all-encompassing trade agreement without congressional ratification?

If the answer is “no,” Congress must vote down trade promotion authority.

Manning is president of Americans for Limited Government.

Tags fast-track fast-track trade authority Paul Ryan TPP Trade trade agreement Trans-Pacific Partnership
See all Hill.TV See all Video

Most Popular

Load more


See all Video