As White House Makes Final Push On TPP, Congress Slams On The Brakes

from the some-good-news... dept

Things are heating up around the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement, the trade agreement among many of the Pacific Rim countries that has tremendous problems. The US has been pushing very, very hard to get the deal signed and delivered by the end of the year. US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced that he still believes an agreement can be made by the end of the year.

“I think the important thing to remember is that the reason we are in the TPP discussion is the same as the reasons Singapore is — same for Japan and the other countries are — that it is in each of our own interest for there to be high quality agreement that benefits each of us individually and all of us together collectively.

“And that is the reason why we are still optimistic that we can reach a successful conclusion of the TPP discussion this year.”

Of course, there are a number of indications that with some of the massive gaps between negotiating positions that still remain that it may be difficult to hammer out an agreement in time. But… it also might not matter much, because Congress may be slamming the brakes on the whole process. We just noted that a very large number of folks in Congress have told the White House that they’re very uncomfortable giving the USTR “trade promotion authority” or “fast track authority,” which would effectively have Congress giving up its Constitutionally defined role as the sole governmental branch that can “regulate commerce with foreign nations.”

In effect, without trade promotion authority, the USTR is negotiating without any real mandate. That is, the agreement itself is somewhat meaningless, because the USTR has no ability to commit the US to anything. Only Congress can do that, and it appears Congress is skeptical about giving up its Constitutional powers to the USTR — and, given what’s been seen in the leaked versions of the TPP (oh yeah, and the very fact that it had to be leaked in the first place) — it seems Congress has some very good reasons to be wary of the USTR having any more power than it currently does.

So it’s good to see that Rep. Steny Hoyer, the number two Democrat in the House, has basically said that there’s almost no way Congress is giving the USTR trade promotion authority this year. Bizarrely, as the article notes, the Republicans seem overeager to support trade promotion authority, while it’s the Democrats who are effectively blocking it. Yes, you read that right. The Republicans in the House, who have been fighting President Obama on nearly everything, are eager to give up their own constitutional powers in Congress and hand them directly to the Obama White House, while it’s the President’s own party that is (rightfully) concerned about moving forward with such a plan.

For the life of me, I cannot see why Republicans would support such a thing. It appears that a bunch of highly paid lobbyists are going around pretending that TPP is actually a “free trade” agreement, and telling Republicans they should be in favor of free trade. But it’s not a free trade agreement at all (quite the opposite, actually). Maybe someone should explain to the Republicans that giving up their own sole power to regulate foreign commerce and handing it the White House, which has written a proposal designed to massively benefit traditional donors to Democratic candidates, isn’t the wisest of political strategies.

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Comments on “As White House Makes Final Push On TPP, Congress Slams On The Brakes”

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out_of_the_blue says:

Mike still doesn't see the globalist and corporatist aspects.

“The Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty is the complete opposite of ‘free trade’
The TPP would strip our constitutional rights, while offering no gains for the majority of Americans. It’s a win for corporations”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Mike still doesn't see the globalist and corporatist aspects.

“The Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty is the complete opposite of ‘free trade’

Except that’s exactly what Mike said yesterday.

And you commented on that post, so you know it. Yet you STILL pretend he doesn’t say that.

What amazes me is that it’s pretty clear that Mike agrees that TPP is a bad corporatist/crony attempt to stifle the rights of the public. In other words, you AGREE with him, and yet you’re so stupid you attack him for having the same stance as you, while you don’t realize it.

You take trolling to a new level. Attacking someone for agreeing with you, while making statements that suggest you don’t even know your view is the same? That takes work or a special brand of stupidity.

Internet Zen Master (profile) says:

Doesn't the Obama Administration realize something?

That “something” being the fact that Tea Party controls the GOP-run House of Congress. Considering that group of nutters (bless their loony hearts) pretty much seems inclined to do the opposite of whatever Obama wants these days just to spite him, and given how the article about Hoyer was written on the 19th, which was 3 days ago, the TPP’s chance getting its precious FTA within the next 5 days are getting lower and lower.

Especially when the House has so much better work to do. Like bringing up a bill to repeal the ACA. AGAIN.

As the Zen Master says, “We’ll see.”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Doesn't the Obama Administration realize something?

I have the opposite take. The R’s have taken a caning over only endorsing policy that is 180 degrees from the President. That’s the Tea Party way. Mainstream R’s know what a disaster the government shutdown was. They allowed themselves to be completely portrayed as petulant, petty, obstructionist dickheads. They have to shake that before the next elections or they will potentially lose the House. Backing the TPP is just the sort of publicity vehicle blessing they need. They can show America how they can work across the aisle and with the President to further important trade agreements. They love it, as it is a sop to their donor base. And maybe they can cause trouble between the WH and congressional Dem’s while they’re at it.

I think you are waaaaaay overestimating the residual influence of the Teabaggers after the shutdown debacle. Their brand has been poisoned. That shrunk and distilled them to only the most shrill outliers of the extreme right. Any thinking Republican is distancing themselves from the Teabaggers at a dead run. Everyone is reflecting on the Virginia beatdown. Once a reliable red state, it has become purple of late. But in the off year race for governor, lt. governor and AG three R’s politically aligned with the Teabagger philosophy. Against the backdrop of Obamacare and the government shutdown, they got swept. Why? Well it wasn’t on the strength of opponents. It was, it the words of one opposition commercial: “________________ is too extreme for Virginia”.

As you’ve noted: we’ll see.

Anonymous Coward says:

Maybe someone should explain to the Republicans that giving up their own sole power to regulate foreign commerce and handing it the White House, which has written a proposal designed to massively benefit traditional donors to Democratic candidates, isn’t the wisest of political strategies.

Maybe the Republicans don’t give a happy shit about the IP chapter as compared to the goodies for their traditional donors contained in the other 20+ chapters? And with midterm elections coming, how long do you think it will take the Dem’s to get back in line on this? Maybe I shouldn’t doubt the power of prayer, but I just don’t see it here.

Internet Zen Master (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Considering that no one knows what’s in the other 20+ chapters, and that the last time someone said “you have to pass something to know what’s in it!” The GOP got to watch the Democrats pass the ACA and are now watching (while eating popcorn by the bucketload I’d imagine) the Dems rip their hair out over the complete disaster their opponent’s biggest legislative achievement in recent memory’s turning out to be so far, I think the GOP’s more than aware of the problems that passing something they know nothing about might result in at the moment.

That said, one should never underestimate the stupidity of politicians these days.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

I wonder what Representatives are being told by those members of their base who are advisors to USTR? By now I think everything but the IP chapter is done, fairly well understood and no mystery to the Republican caucus. And in case you are unaware, fast track still requires an up/down vote and everything is there for the reading ahead of time. So despite the furious spinning going on, Congress doesn’t abdicate its constitutional duty with fast track. It has successfully and lawfully done this for decades. This bogus “constitutional” issue is a pure invention of copyright opponents desperately seeking a way to derail anything that reasonably protects copyrighted content.

AJ (profile) says:

Isn't this just party politics as usual?

If GOP were able to give the White House trade promotion authority, then after the TPP started to cause problems they could use that as political ammunition against the democrats in the future (“Obama ruined the US legal system for ever” etc.). Maybe I’m being really cynical here, but if someone doesn’t care about the means (i.e. the effects the TPP would have), that end could have a political justification. From what has been leaked the USTR seems to have been listening to some of the GOP’s best backers anyway, so this could be a double plus for them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Fast Track authorization expired in June of 2007. So it is no longer able to be used unless it is reapproved. All Fast Track was for was a method to control riders being attached to the bill to poison the trade bill acceptance by other countries.

No one is happy with the lack of transparency that the USTR has done with Congress and Congress seeing the election vote coming has salted the process with a two fold idea.

Get some of that money for the war chest and at the same time teach the administration that secrecy that includes Congress which is responsible for those trade treaties isn’t going to float.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Republicans are out of feet to shoot

War on women? I guess they must be going out into the streets and shooting all the women they can find, or something. Not sure how they accomplish this after shooting themselves in both feet, but you must be privy to some kind of info that both the MSM and non-MSM are hiding from us.

Pragmatic says:

Re: Re: Republicans are out of feet to shoot

You’re not a great lover of women, are you?

This law says you’re pregnant from the day you’re first capable of conception because they count the days of pregnancy from two weeks before a child is conceived. This means you can’t be sure you’re not pregnant at any given time under this law, even if there’s no evidence of the hormonal changes, etc., that occur at conception.

Effectively, this makes the woman a ward of the state, not free to move about and make her own choices.

Meanwhile, if a rape survivor opts to keep the baby, the rapist may claim parental rights in most states:

So… riddle me this: what part of these laws do not constitute a gross violation of women’s civil rights. It seems that in Red states, they don’t have any. All men may be equal, but women? Not so much.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Republicans are out of feet to shoot

You haven’t even answered a question I asked you many months ago, so why should I answer yours? All you do is make these drive-by comments and you either don’t bother to check back or you ignore replies. So screw you, Prickmatic, you’ll get nothing from me.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Republicans are out of feet to shoot

You know you could have just admitted you were wrong, that would have taken a lot less effort.

Also, if you’re going to claim someone hasn’t answered your question, if you want to be taken seriously, you kinda need to provide a link to said question to either prove your assertion, and/or give them a chance to address the matter.

LESLIE MAYZELS (profile) says:

Obama Acts Like Republican

I am starting to think we were bamboozled as Democrats into thinking that Obama is one of us, when in fact he seems to be doing the bidding of Big Business! Think about it, the GOP had run their own guys on the Democratic ticket more than once, so that they could fool low-information voters into voting for their shill… maybe that is why Obama takes all their B.S. and never fights back; MAYBE IT’S HIS JOB TO TAKE THEIR CRAP! …just sayin’.

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