Congress Doesn't Really Have The Votes To Move Fast Track Forward, Everyone Starts Pointing Fingers

from the still-waiting dept

Last week, the House rejected the President's desired "fast track" authority for trade bills that would have smoothed the way to signing onto trade agreements like the TPP, TTIP and TISA. Technically, "fast track" was voted for, but a related issue around Trade Adjustment Authority (TAA) was rejected (overwhelmingly: 302 to 126). Because the Senate had linked those two, the House needed to as well. Following this, House leadership invoked a procedural move that basically set up a revote for today. Given the massive margin by which TAA failed, I wondered aloud how they would flip so many votes. However, in the back of my head, I worried that the approval of the actual fast track bill meant that the TAA rejection was something of a theatrical production, allowing people to "vote against" it and then let it pass a week later. Turns out my original thought was the correct one.

There is no deal in place, and the House knows it, so it's not even going to try the vote. There was a procedural move to basically delay things through the end of July, so that it could come back, but it does seem clear that the President had no plan B, and really thought that House Democrats -- who have been squawking for months over this -- would eventually come around to back his position.

Meanwhile, on the Republican side, while they're publicly blaming the Democrats for this, they're punishing dissenters in the ranks who threatened some of the procedural shenanigans. And, at the same time, it appears that they're trying to craft a new plan that would separate fast track from the TAA and still move forward with fast track by itself, but that creates a whole host of other problems -- the biggest one being that those who voted against TAA in order to block fast track obviously know what's going on -- and this new move would likely be met with enough resistance to stop it as well.

Everyone agrees that fast track authority for the TPP (and those other trade agreements) is not necessarily dead, but it is on significant life support.

Filed Under: congress, fast track, house, tisa, tpp, ttip


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2015 @ 3:29pm

    Separation of powers

    Serious question: Why would Congress even want to give up the chance to discuss and amend these treaties?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      cypherspace (profile), 16 Jun 2015 @ 3:38pm

      Re: Separation of powers

      Because their financial backers say so.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 16 Jun 2015 @ 8:53pm

      Deniability.

      If you want something to pass, but don't want to be held responsible for it passing, it then makes sense to hand it off to someone else and let them take responsibility for passing it.

      Pretty much trade agreements have become something exactly like that. No one wants to be held accountable for passing law that no-one is allowed to read and benefits the plutocrats but not the constituency.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        R.H. (profile), 17 Jun 2015 @ 1:17pm

        Re: Deniability.

        The problem with that thought is that they'd still have to vote yea-or-nay on the agreement itself even if Fast Track had passed. They just wouldn't be able to debate or amend anything. So, we (those of us who are paying attention) would still know who voted for or against the horrible agreement.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2015 @ 3:38pm

    Party before people

    "In the beginning of the year," Scalise spokesman Chris Bond said, "Whip Scalise reaffirmed the longstanding policy, also held by his predecessors, that while Whip team members are free to vote their conscience on underlying bills, they are expected to vote as a team on procedural matters such as last week's rule vote."

    I find the undemocratic nature of our democratic institutions troubling.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Jun 2015 @ 3:43pm

      Re: Party before people

      And this:

      Those close to Speaker John Boehner have long pushed their leaders to drop the hammer on members who do not act as team players...But Boehner has by and large shied away from public displays of disunity, choosing instead to exact subtle retribution behind closed doors. Those members say they have found it harder to get their bills considered and have received less fundraising help from the party infrastructure.

      Nevertheless, Boehner publicly noted the frustration Tuesday morning. "...we've worked hard to stay in the majority and I expect our team to act like a team. And I, frankly, made it pretty clear I wasn't very happy."

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 17 Jun 2015 @ 1:53pm

      troublinng undemocratic processes in an alleged democracy.

      You should.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    J. R., 16 Jun 2015 @ 3:45pm

    Re: Separation of Powers

    They want to give it up because they have the backbones of jellyfish, and are probably less intelligent.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    drummer315 (profile), 16 Jun 2015 @ 4:10pm

    TPP & TAA

    How quaint but appropriate, the topic involves T & A. However, the actual items in congress are not good things for the US, no matter what POTUS and certain repubs say. It signs away the sovereignty of our country and suborns our constitution to corporate interests and their constant greed for power and profit. Humanity and citizens rights have no significant value under that system. I hope and pray they never pass.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 16 Jun 2015 @ 7:00pm

    Why it failed

    It's something the money backing them wanted. It would mean they give up a measure of power. Power trumps money, apparently.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 16 Jun 2015 @ 8:57pm

    Can they vote to deratify the Constitution and give all power to the lobbiests?

    That would probably jump to the chase.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Jun 2015 @ 6:27am

    Republicans are blaming Democrats for the failure of TPA? Now THAT takes a lot of balls. Don't blame Democrats if the TPA was a bad idea in the first place. Congress should not be turning over the very powers that congress currently enjoys to the executive branch of the government, which is the president.

    There is a reason why our founding fathers sought to create independent branches of our government and why the office of the president is subject to congressional approval.

    The TPA is a notoriously BAD IDEA and would be the first step to a dictatorship rule in this country. The president, with more power than congress, is a REALLY BAD IDEA.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    R.H. (profile), 17 Jun 2015 @ 1:27pm

    Fast Track Authority

    Are there any citizen groups for fast track authority. This is one of those things that I can't imagine much of the constituency being for but that comes uncomfortably close to passing. Why would anyone be in favor of their representative giving up power to be exercised by the executive branch even if you generally dislike your representative and like the President, this simply makes it easier to do something like this again in the future when the situation may be reversed.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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