House Caves On Fast Track, Issues Moves Back To The Senate

from the this-is-ridiculous dept

The process for shoving through dangerous corporation-driven trade agreements has been a bizarre procedural mess, but unfortunately it took another step forward earlier today. As we've reported, at the end of May, after some tinkering, the Senate voted in favor of giving the President "fast track" authority (which effectively cedes Congress's Constitutional powers over international commerce to the President). There had been a brief hiccup in that process until the Senate agreed to tie the fast track bill (officially known as "Trade Promotion Authority" or TPA) to a separate program known as Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), which helps provide training programs for workers displaced over trade. At that point, everyone thought that the fight was now entirely about the House. And, in a surprise move, late last week the House overwhelmingly rejected the TAA part, with many Democrats voting against it -- even though it's a program they support. The claim was that they voted against it as a protest over the fast track provision, which they didn't like -- though, oddly, right after that they did a "show vote" approving fast track, even though it was procedurally meaningless.

The original plan was then to pull another procedural trick to re-vote for TAA on Tuesday of this week, but after realizing they simply didn't have the votes, that vote was pushed off until at least July 30th. However, supporters of the big trade deals apparently huddled yesterday and finally came up with a plan B: they would separate out the TAA and TPA but with a promise from Republicans that they would come back together later, and the President more or less said he wouldn't sign the TPA unless TAA came with it.

Either way, this plan B has now gone into effect and narrowly succeeded in the House with a 218 to 208 vote, meaning that even though we thought this was done in the Senate, the fight now returns there. The Democratic Senators who voted for the combined package originally now need to see if they trust everyone to also support TAA if they vote for TPA.

Yes, it's a confusing mess -- but basically this fight now goes back to the Senate with a pretty good chance that there will be enough votes to give the President fast track authority. There are some questions on that front, but it's close enough that someone is likely to cave. And then it appears we're right back to the fight over the TAA. If it's true that the President really won't accept TPA without TAA, the House still needs to pass TAA and that wasn't possible as of Tuesday. This is a procedural move that moves the process forward, but it's still not a done deal that the trade agreements will happen. Of course, there is the risk that the President will go back on his word and because he's so desperate to get the TPP agreement approved, that he'll accept the TPA without the TAA... and that will truly screw over his own party while helping Republicans massively, since they hate the TAA program. The question, really, is how badly the President wants that trade agreement. Is he willing to screw over his own party to make it happen?

In short: this fight isn't over yet, and for now it goes back to the Senate... but it will probably also return to the House before long, and may involve the President. And, so, we wait...
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Filed Under: congress, fast track, house, senate, taa, tpa, tpp, trade adjustment assistance, trade promotion authority, ustr


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2015 @ 11:04am

    I hope Obama signs it

    It would be a fitting statement on the way the US currently works if Obama were to yell out "Psych" and sign the TPP without even hesitating a moment to wait for the TAA to pass.

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

  • identicon
    Whoever, 18 Jun 2015 @ 11:07am

    Obama's motivation?

    What is Obama's motivation for this? Is it that he is so desperate to have something, anything, to show for his second term that he will push for a bad treaty, just to have the treaty as something he did in his second term?

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

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2015 @ 11:33am

      Re: Obama's motivation?

      We don't know the motivation since the bill is secret. Perhaps this should not be surprising since we already have secret courts, secret decisions, secret "interpretations" of laws, secret surveillance of the public, etc. Now we can add secret bills to the mix.

      The simple political fact is that there is something in this that somebody with serious influence really, really wants. More than likely, they know that it would have been even harder to pass if the public really got to examine it first.

      Now that Congress seems poised to pass it, maybe we can learn what's in it (shout-outs to Rep. Pelosi and Rep. Ryan) - unless our glorious leaders decide the law is just too sensitive for ordinary subjects, er citizens, to know and they add "secret laws" to our semi-free lives.

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

      • identicon
        David, 18 Jun 2015 @ 11:38am

        Re: Re: Obama's motivation?

        We don't know the motivation since the bill is secret. Perhaps this should not be surprising since we already have secret courts, secret decisions, secret "interpretations" of laws, secret surveillance of the public, etc. Now we can add secret bills to the mix.

        Well, it's obvious that we have a secret president nobody voted for. Who is it, and what does he stand for?

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

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 18 Jun 2015 @ 1:27pm

      Re: Obama's motivation?

      What is Obama's motivation for this?

      Perhaps there's a tasty private sector job waiting for him if and only if TPP passes.

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

      • icon
        Aaron Wolf (profile), 18 Jun 2015 @ 9:52pm

        Re: Re: Obama's motivation?

        No president goes on to a regular job. No president is later someone's employee. Presidents can do speaking gigs or writing or whatever if they care to be insanely rich. Otherwise, they get some sort of pension so they are set for life anyway.

        The best assumption is that Obama is actually politically supportive of this garbage, like he really believes in it. Ugh.

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

        • icon
          nasch (profile), 19 Jun 2015 @ 7:28am

          Re: Re: Re: Obama's motivation?

          Presidents can do speaking gigs or writing or whatever if they care to be insanely rich.

          Yes, that's the sort of thing I had in mind.

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

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 24 Jun 2015 @ 7:04am

          Re: Re: Re: Obama's motivation?

          "Presidents can do speaking gigs or writing or whatever"

          I doubt former president Bush is literate enough to write, at least not competently. I suppose anything he writes could make for some good comedy. At least every time he spoke what came out was mostly hilarious gibberish that didn't make much sense. Perhaps if he does a speaking gig he can be a comedian.

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

  • icon
    Nastybutler77 (profile), 18 Jun 2015 @ 11:10am

    That roll call link with the vote totals says it's about allowing government workers to withdraw money after age 50 from government accounts and other stuff. So this falls under the other stuff section? Seems odd.

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

    • identicon
      Jason, 18 Jun 2015 @ 11:26am

      Re:

      You'll find the phrase "and for other purposes" in a lot of bills.

      I've always considered it yet another example of the dysfunction of Congress...bills are glommed together, rewritten, or even changed entirely, like there's a self-imposed slot assignment on everything and woe befall the legislator who wants to pull an existing bill from the schedule and replace it with something that was created from a blank page to be on point.

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

  • identicon
    wec, 18 Jun 2015 @ 11:26am

    Is he willing to screw over his own country to make it happen?

    Fixed for you

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2015 @ 11:26am

    I would not really call this a "Caves in" and like you said its far from a done deal

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

  • icon
    James Burkhardt (profile), 18 Jun 2015 @ 11:31am

    Obama has spent most of his term in office pandering to Republicans while at the same time giving lip service to the Democratic party. His biggest successes have supported republican policies. He'll just be showing his true colors when he signs in TPA without TAA.

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

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 18 Jun 2015 @ 11:43am

    Do you even need to ask?

    The question, really, is how badly the President wants that trade agreement. Is he willing to screw over his own party to make it happen?

    The answer is yes, absolutely. If he's willing to sell out and screw over the entire country on this and other matters, what makes you think he'd hesitate for even a moment doing to same to his party?

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

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 18 Jun 2015 @ 1:29pm

      Re: Do you even need to ask?

      If he's willing to sell out and screw over the entire country on this and other matters, what makes you think he'd hesitate for even a moment doing to same to his party?

      Maybe he cares more about the party than about the country. Wouldn't surprise me much, although I doubt he would admit it even to himself.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2015 @ 11:59am

    hearing Senate may vote on it later today, anyone know if that is true?

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

    • identicon
      AI, 19 Jun 2015 @ 2:06am

      Re:

      I doubt the Senate will vote on it right away. They will need to work out all the negotiations again like they did in May (plus cloture votes and amendments) before they vote.

      Either way, the longer this TPA drags on, the lesser the chances TPP will be easily ratified. Remember, Obama wants this TPA now so he can close the negotiations and get TPP ratified before 2016 when election primaries begin.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2015 @ 12:32pm

    TD - Thanks for the vote count link!!!

    Mike,

    Thank you so much for including the link for the "218 to 208 vote" detail. Saved me the time of tracking it down (always a headache). With that link I was quickly able to see how my rep voted (and know whether or not I'll be voting for him the next time he runs). Very much appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Anonymous Coward

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

  • icon
    seedeevee (profile), 18 Jun 2015 @ 12:48pm

    Wasserman Schultz

    One of the 29 Democratic Party "ayes" in the "218 to 208 vote" - the 52nd Chair of the Democratic National Committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

    Again, why is it that so many people do not believe one thing coming from that side of the Gravy Train?

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2015 @ 2:36pm

    So basically TPP is a done deal now.

    You know what? I don't care anymore. I give up

    Let it all burn.

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

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Jun 2015 @ 4:55pm

    to the average and poor American my best advice is to stockpile food and necessities

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

    • icon
      tracyanne (profile), 18 Jun 2015 @ 11:47pm

      Re:

      Not just to the average and poor Americans, If/When the TPP gets signed we all get screwed... average and poor Australians, Canadians, Argentinians, Japanese, New Zealanders, and all the other Pacific countries.

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

  • icon
    Mason Wheeler (profile), 19 Jun 2015 @ 8:28am

    The question, really, is how badly the President wants that trade agreement. Is he willing to screw over his own party to make it happen?

    Is that really a question? It's what he's been doing all along...

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


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