Democrats urge officials to leave out investor-state dispute provisions in major trade deals

Several House and Senate Democrats are urging the Obama administration to leave out provisions in a two major trade deals they say could lead to changes in U.S. finanical regulations. 

Five Democrats, led by Rep. Bill PascrellWilliam (Bill) James PascrellDems walk Trump trade tightrope Treasury, IRS set to miss subpoena deadline on Trump tax returns Reps. Pascrell and Doyle win annual bocce tournament MORE, Jr. (D-N.J.), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, wrote President Obama urging him to exclude investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions from the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement.

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In a separate letter, Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenButtigieg jokes about holding town hall same night as 'Game of Thrones' finale Buttigieg defends appearing on Fox News: Many Americans don't hear Dems' message Warren offers to help Twitter user with her love life MORE (D-Mass.), Tammy BaldwinTammy Suzanne BaldwinThis week: House to vote on bill to ban LGBTQ discrimination Overnight Defense — Presented by Huntington Ingalls Industries — Pentagon approves transfer of .5B to border wall | Dems blast move | House Dem pushes Pelosi to sue over Trump's Yemen veto Pentagon approves transfer of .5B to Trump border wall from Afghan forces, other accounts MORE (D-Wis.), and Edward MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyTrump faces criticism for hosting Hungary's leader Bill Nye tees off on climate change skeptics: 'The planet is on f---ing fire!' Sanders to join Ocasio-Cortez in headlining Green New Deal rally Monday MORE (D-Mass.) raised concerns about those provisions being added to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which they argue would make it harder for Congress and regulatory agencies to prevent future financial crises.

“We share your goals of ensuring that U.S. interests that invest abroad are not treated in a discriminatory fashion or denied fair opportunity to seek and achieve redress of grievances and believe they can be attained in TTIP without the inclusion of ISDS provisions,” the House lawmakers wrote.

“Should investor-to-state provisions be included in the TTIP, we believe that reforms to the current model are critical to avoiding the problems that have arisen under the provisions in existing FTAs and BITs."

The senators said that investor-state dispute settlement provisions in past trade deals have allowed foreign firms to use the process to challenge government financial policy decisions, and that the provisions in the TPP could be even broader. 

The are specifically concerned about market access rules and capital controls.

"Including such provisions in the TPP could expose American taxpayers to billions of dollars in losses and dissuade the government from establishing or enforcing financial rules that impact foreign banks,” the senators wrote.

“The consequence would be to strip our regulators of the tools they need to prevent the next crisis."

The senators argue that Congress must be able maintain the flexibility to impose restrictions on harmful financial products and on the conduct or structure of financial firms.

The letter asks the USTR to respond with its positions on the inclusion of these three provisions in the TPP, and requests that the USTR provide the senators with all U.S. proposals and bracketed negotiating texts relating to the provisions.

Reps. Lloyd DoggettLloyd Alton DoggettTreasury Department rejects Dem subpoena for Trump tax returns On The Money: New tariffs on China pose major risk for Trump | Senators sound alarm over looming budget battles | Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders team up against payday lenders Dems highlight NYT article on Trump's business losses in 'tax gap' hearing MORE (Texas), Linda SanchezLinda Teresa SánchezWe can accelerate a cure for Alzheimer's Dems press Mnuchin on Trump tax returns Hispanic Dems announce task forces for 116th Congress MORE (Calif.), John LewisJohn LewisPelosi receives John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award Schumer calls on McConnell to hold vote on Equality Act House approves anti-LGBT discrimination Equality Act MORE (Ga.) and Jim McDermottJames (Jim) Adelbert McDermottPromoting the voice of Korean Americans Lobbying World Dem lawmaker: Israel's accusations start of 'war on the American government' MORE (Wash.), also Ways and Means Committee members, signed onto the letter that also went to Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryRubio asks Barr to investigate Kerry over Iran meetings Harris demands Barr clarify if Trump has asked him to investigate anyone Kerry fires back after Trump accuses him of violating the Logan Act: 'He's wrong' MORE and U.S. Trade Representative Michael FromanMichael B.G. FromanUS trade rep spent nearly M to furnish offices: report Overnight Finance: Trump hits China on currency manipulation, countering Treasury | Trump taps two for Fed board | Tax deadline revives fight over GOP overhaul | Justices set to hear online sales tax case Froman joins Mastercard to oversee global business expansion MORE.  

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka backed the lawmakers’ objections.

“The TTIP can help our economy grow, but only if it excludes the ISDS,” Trumka said.

“ISDS gives foreign investors extraordinary legal rights to challenge generally applicable public policies, including decisions about where to place toxic waste dumps, whether to increase minimum wages, and how to protect children from smoking and water pollution in privatized ‘corporate courts’."