by Mike Masnick
Thu, Aug 27th 2015 8:22am
by Glyn Moody
Tue, Aug 11th 2015 11:08pm
from the what's-plan-b,-again? dept
Back in May, we wrote about the European Commission's attempt to put lipstick on the corporate sovereignty pig. Its attempt to "reform" the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system was largely driven by the massive rejection of the whole approach by respondents to the Commission's consultation on the subject last year. Of the 150,000 people who took the trouble to respond, 145,000 said they did not want corporate sovereignty provisions of any kind. Even the European Commission could not spin that as a mandate for business as usual, and so it came up with what it called a "path for reform" (pdf). By promising to solve the all-too evident "problems" of corporate sovereignty by coming up with something it claimed was better, its evident plan was to include this re-branded ISDS as part of the TAFTA/TTIP negotiations with the US.
The "path for reform" starts from some tinkering with a few elements of the basic ISDS approach that leaves the basic idea untouched, and moves towards something slightly more radical -- a permanent court for settling investor-state disputes:
The EU should pursue the creation of one permanent court. This court would apply to multiple agreements and between different trading partners, also on the basis of an opt-in system. The objective would be to multilateralise the court either as a self-standing international body or by embedding it into an existing multilateral organization. Work has already begun on how to start this process, in particular on aspects such as architecture, organisation, costs and participation of other partners.
The European Commission probably thought this was a pretty clever move: head off objections to ISDS and its ad-hoc tribunals by recasting it as a permanent court of a more traditional kind. There's just one slight problem with this idea: according to the respected German newspaper Die Welt, the US rejects it completely (original in German):
There's no question of such a [judicial] authority. The US will not tolerate interference in its national sovereignty.
That's a rather ironic viewpoint, given that ISDS already interferes with national sovereignty. Assuming that Die Welt's source is trustworthy, the US attitude may well arise from the fact that it has never lost an ISDS case, and perhaps believes, somewhat naively, that it never will. That seems unlikely: if TAFTA/TTIP includes corporate sovereignty, more than 3,400 parent corporations in EU nations, owning more than 24,200 subsidiaries in the US, will suddenly gain the right to sue the US government using the mechanism, in connection with any of their past, present or future investments there.
Whatever its reasoning, a refusal by the US to countenance the creation of a new permanent court dealing with investment disputes leaves the European Commission's TTIP strategy on this point in tatters. It will be interesting to see whether it now begins to row back from the idea of creating a completely new court, and starts extolling the virtues of a slightly "reformed" ISDS instead.
by Glyn Moody
Wed, Jun 10th 2015 11:10pm
Analysis Shows European Commission's 'Improved' Corporate Sovereignty Model Would Actually Make Things Much Worse
from the institutionalized-regulatory-chill dept
Last year, the controversy around corporate sovereignty was such that the European Commission felt obliged to slam the brakes on this particular part of the TAFTA/TTIP negotiations in order to try to defuse the situation. The ostensible reason for that unexpected pause was to hold a public consultation on the "investor-state dispute settlement" (ISDS) mechanism. It turned out to be of a very limited kind. Rather than asking whether people wanted corporate tribunals passing judgment on their laws and regulations, the European Commission instead presented the ISDS chapter of another agreement, that with Canada, and posed some rather technical questions about the subtle changes it incorporated.
The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) is nominally finished, and is currently undergoing what is known as "legal scrubbing", during which it is checked and polished for final ratification by Canada and the EU, although that's looking much more problematic now than it did a year ago. In the consultation, CETA's ISDS chapter was offered as a kind of template for TAFTA/TTIP. The Commission's argument was that it incorporated many improvements over traditional corporate sovereignty chapters -- which even the EU admitted were flawed -- and could be tweaked further to produce an even better solution for the US-EU negotiations.
Techdirt has already written about one detailed analysis of the claimed improvements in CETA's ISDS that found them seriously wanting. Confirming that view is a new paper from Gus Van Harten, who is Associate Professor of Law at York University in Toronto, Canada. He has taken advantage of the fact that we now have two recent EU free trade agreements with corporate sovereignty chapters: the one with Canada, plus a less well-known deal with Singapore. Van Harten's paper looks at both of them in order to explore to what extent the European Commission's new model for ISDS represents an advance over previous versions, and is therefore something that might usefully form the basis for a possible corporate sovereignty chapter in TTIP. Here's his concluding summary:
The CETA and [EU-Singapore] FTA demonstrate the Commission's willingness to accept ISDS -- based on the model long pushed by Western European countries for developing and transition countries -- that is flawed due to its lack of independence, fairness, and balance. The Commission's approach to ISDS, as represented by the CETA and FTA, does not ensure basic safeguards of judicial independence and procedural fairness. It does not affirm clearly the state's right to regulate. It does not introduce actionable responsibilities for foreign investors or even require foreign investors to resort to domestic courts unless they have been shown not to offer justice. The only notable improvement in the CETA and FTA approach to ISDS, compared to the historical Western European model, is its greater provision for openness.
Although that is pretty unequivocal, it's worth reading the whole paper to understand why Van Harten is so dismissive. It contains many insights along the way, including the following astonishing fact:
By including ISDS in the CETA and FTA, as forerunners of a TTIP, the Commission would make the problems of ISDS much worse. The Commission aims to expand and lock in a deeply flawed system of dispute resolution -- premised on the special privileging and subsidizing of large companies and very wealthy individuals, with lucrative returns also for ISDS lawyers and arbitrators -- so that it covers most of the world economy.
The CETA's provision on the arbitrators' power to award damages to foreign investors includes a clause that I have not seen in any investment treaty. The clause says that, in calculating monetary damages, the arbitrators shall reduce the damages to account for "any... repeal or modification of the measure". Thus, the CETA appears to establish an incentive for states to change their decisions in order to appease a foreign investor (who has brought an ISDS claim) as a means to limit the state's exposure to potentially massive liability at the hands of the arbitrators. Put differently, this clause in the CETA appears to institutionalize the ISDS dynamic of "regulatory chill".
So much for the idea that corporate sovereignty "does not and cannot require countries to change any law or regulation": not only does the CETA text admit it can happen, it even provides a strong incentive to do so.
by Glyn Moody
Wed, May 27th 2015 1:15am
from the how-is-that-even-possible? dept
Techdirt has been at the forefront of pointing out the dangers of including investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) in so-called trade agreements. Indeed, we even helped come up with a new term -- corporate sovereignty -- to make clear that ISDS is really about placing corporations on the same level as entire nations, and giving them a unique power to sue a country for alleged harms before special tribunals. But there's an additional aspect to this, which is explored in an insightful article by Sam Fowles on The Conversation.
He points out that although we don't know in detail what the US-EU TAFTA/TTIP agreement will contain, we do have the text for the one between Canada and the EU, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (pdf), known as CETA. The European Commission has said many times that it aims to build on the corporate sovereignty chapter in CETA when it comes to negotiating TTIP. One feature of ISDS in CETA is the following:
In the event that the present Agreement is terminated, the provisions of [Chapter X Investment] shall continue to be effective for a further period of 20 years from that date in respect of investments made before the date of termination of the present Agreement.
That is, even if a party pulls out of CETA, it will still be bound by the corporate sovereignty provisions for another 20 years, whether it likes it or not. Since we know that the US model investment treaty (pdf) also requires parties to continue allowing ISDS claims for ten years, it seems likely that TAFTA/TTIP, if it includes corporate sovereignty, will also have such a clause, for at least ten years, maybe more. Fowles explains why that is a problem -- he talks about the UK Parliament, but it applies equally to the US:
Parliament represents the will of the people. Therefore it can make or unmake any law it wants. But there’s a caveat: parliament can’t make a law that would bind future parliaments. To do so would be undemocratic. The laws of one generation are often inappropriate for the next. Parliament must embody the will of the people at the time. When two ordinary laws conflict, the courts will always apply the one passed most recently.
But the 10/20-year extension of ISDS interferes with that. It says that whatever the views of government in power, it must still respect the ISDS chapter signed by one of its predecessors. One implication is that for a decade or two, any major policy changes could be subject to billion-dollar cases before corporate sovereignty tribunals -- a strong disincentive to bring them in, whatever the public might want. The implication is clear. As Fowles writes:
If democracy is to remain the fundamental tenet of our constitution then TTIP must not be ratified. At the very least we must derogate from the 20-year clause. Living under a government you don’t like is the risk you take in a democracy, but being forced to live by rules agreed 20 years ago is fundamentally undemocratic.
As Techdirt explained last year, Canada has already signed a trade agreement with China that will take precedence over Canada's constitution for 31 years. Let's hope the US and EU aren't foolish enough to follow suit by allowing corporate sovereignty to reign over them even after TAFTA/TTIP is terminated.
by Mike Masnick
Fri, May 22nd 2015 6:16pm
from the but-of-course dept
Also as expected, all attempts to add amendments to the TPP -- including Elizabeth Warrens' plan to strip corporate sovereignty ISDS provisions -- failed. Any of the amendments almost certainly would have sunk the fast track bill in the House, so they were all basically poison pills designed to kill fast track. Still, it's disappointing that Congress is favoring corporate sovereignty, when it's pretty clear that it's a provision that is going to come back and bite us badly.
Either way, the fight will now move on to the House, where it's not yet clear if there are enough votes. But, don't be surprised to see a full court press to convince another dozen or so Democrats to join with Republicans in coughing up Congress' Constitutional authority over international trade.
by Glyn Moody
Thu, May 21st 2015 1:00am
Certification: How The US Demands Even More Concessions After Trade Agreements Have Been Signed And Ratified
from the enough-is-never-enough dept
The battle raging over the fast track bill is essentially one about control: who gets the final say over so-called trade agreements like TPP and TAFTA/TTIP. If the US President is not given trade promotion authority, it is possible that Congress will demand changes to the negotiated text; with fast track, it will be a simple up or down vote. That's also the situation in other countries participating in the negotiations: once the text is agreed upon, they can essentially accept it or reject it. However, a group of senior politicians in five of the TPP nations point out that after those votes, the US can still demand further concessions from its partners thanks to a process known as certification:
Senior parliamentarians from five countries negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement have signed an open letter urging their political leaders to protect their nations’ sovereignty from the United States' process of certification.
Here's how that works:
The US withholds the final steps that are necessary to bring a trade and investment treaty into force until the other party has changed its relevant domestic laws and regulations to meet US expectations of its obligations under the agreement. In the past, US 'expectations' have gone beyond what is in the actual text, and even included matters that were rejected in negotiations.
In other words, even though other nations might think that after their agreement and ratification of the text, everything is fixed, the US reserves the right to come back and demand changes to domestic laws and regulations so as to ensure that the implementation is as it wishes. That's no mere theoretical option: it has been used against both Peru and Australia recently. In the latter case, the US was unhappy with the legislation enacting the Australia-US free trade agreement (AUSFTA), and demanded that Australia bring in a supplementary law that actually went beyond the terms of AUSFTA. Even then, the US reserved its right to take legal action if it felt that Australia had still not gone far enough.
US officials can define another country's obligations; become directly involved in drafting that country's relevant law and regulations; demand to review and approve proposed laws before they are presented to the other country's legislature; and delay certification until the US is satisfied the new laws meet its requirements.
The publication of the open letter (pdf) to the political leaders of the TPP nations is a timely reminder that however much sovereignty they might be willing to give up during the negotiations for the sake of supposed gains, the US may want even more concessions -- without, of course, granting other countries the same prerogative.
by Glyn Moody
Wed, May 13th 2015 1:00am
from the clash-of-civilizations dept
Last week we wrote about an attempt by the EU's Trade Commissioner, Cecilia Malmström, to "save" the corporate sovereignty chapter in TAFTA/TTIP as more people wake up to its dangers, and resist its inclusion. Along with tinkering at the edges, her proposal for reform did have one more substantive idea: to create "a permanent multilateral investment court."
The intention was presumably to address the key objections to investment-state dispute settlement (ISDS) tribunals -- that they are secret, unpredictable and have no conflict of interest rules or appeals process -- by importing some of the key strengths of traditional courts, which are open and impartial, follow precedent and allow appeals.
Of course, that approach begs the question why new courts are needed at all, when national courts already exist. But it seems that we won't be having a debate on that particular issue, since the US has lost no time pouring cold water on the whole idea, as AFP reports:
A senior US official rejected Monday an EU proposal to create an international investment court that was aimed at resolving one of the disputes holding up their free trade deal.
The comments by US Undersecretary for International Trade at the Commerce Department, Stefan Selig, include the following claim:
"The criticisms that they undermine governments' right to regulate, I think are just misguided," Selig said during a visit to Paris when asked about Malmstroem's proposals.
As I wrote last year, far from being "misguided," the past experience with corporate sovereignty shows that those criticisms are entirely justified. Selig then goes on to say:
The United States believes the ISDS mechanism "increases the security of companies willing to make investments and arguably makes that country, whether it's the United States or any country in Europe, a more attractive investment destination."
But again, that assertion is belied by the facts. According to the European Commission's recently-updated figures, in 2013, the total US investment in the EU was €1.65 trillion; the EU investment in the US was even higher -- €1.69 trillion. The size of these numbers is the best indication that companies are more than happy to send money across the Atlantic, even without ISDS.
The US refusal even to consider a major reform of corporate sovereignty poses big problems for the EU negotiators. It's clear that the strategy was to try to win over critics of ISDS by promising that its flaws -- admitted even by the European Commission -- would be fixed through the creation of a new court. With that option no longer on the table, it looks increasingly like TTIP's ISDS will simply involve some minor tweaks.
However, last week another country was making its position on corporate sovereignty clear, reported here by the Budapest Business Journal:
Hungary is against the inclusion of the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) clause in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) free trade agreement between the United States and the European Union, [Hungary's] Foreign Ministry state secretary István Mikola said yesterday following a convention of foreign trade ministers in Brussels.
Since TAFTA/TTIP is what is known as a "mixed agreement," both the EU and all the member states must ratify it before it comes into force. If Hungary refuses to do that on the grounds that it contains ISDS, it's possible the whole deal would simply collapse (it's not clear what would happen in practice, because this is largely uncharted territory). Moreover, Hungary is not the only country that is likely to vote down TTIP if it includes ISDS:
Mikola said that Hungary's views on the ISDS clause are shared by 6-7 other EU member states, but he did not name those states.
That's further evidence that the central stumbling block for TTIP is corporate sovereignty. Indeed, it seems that ISDS is fast becoming as toxic as ACTA three years ago, when politicians rushed to dissociate themselves from the idea before rejecting it completely.
by Glyn Moody
Tue, May 12th 2015 1:15am
from the amazing-coincidences dept
Earlier this year, we discussed an interesting leak from December 2013 revealing discussions about the creation of a new transatlantic Regulatory Council as part of the TAFTA/TTIP agreement currently being negotiated. The central idea was to give a new body powers to vet proposed laws and regulations on both sides of the Atlantic, with a view to promoting trade and regulatory convergence -- two of TTIP's stated aims. Further leaks this year confirmed that negotiators are still working on implementing this idea in the agreement.
Now Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) has obtained yet another leak, but not one from the TTIP talks. Instead, this is an internal document from the European Commission, which proposes setting up a similar regulatory body for the EU, independently of TTIP:
A new bureaucratic body is to have considerable power to stop the Commission from tabling proposals that don't adhere to a set of business-friendly principles. Furthermore, the Commission wants to be able to pull an "emergency brake" if its proposals are significantly changed in the "wrong" direction by either the Council or the European Parliament -- could be laws improving working conditions, could be environmental regulation. The leaked document is entitled "Better regulation for better results -- An EU agenda", ostensibly to be released later in May.
One aspect of the proposed system is that all new regulations would require impact assessments. Although that's sensible enough, there's a catch: if modifications are made to proposed regulations later on -- for example by the European Parliament, which frequently amends texts in this way -- that fact could be used to put a brake on the legislative process pending further examination:
Imagine if the European Parliament agreed with the Council on a compromise that would introduce more ambitious social or environmental goals to a law proposed by the Commission, for instance if a proposal that would ban a few "endocrine disruptors" due to a damaging effect to children would be extended to cover more substances. Such a scenario would then allow the Commission to pull the brake and call for an independent investigation. This would enable any business lobby coalition to regroup and focus on a particular outcome of the assessment, it could slower the procedure substantially, and possibly change the upcoming law to its original, less ambitious form.
This would clearly act as a disincentive for MEPs to try to improve legislation, since doing so would lead to delays and more lobbying that might make it even worse. In this way, the proposed system would have a chilling effect on the more democratic parts of the European Union's legislative process, and enhance the powers of the (unelected) European Commission.
Another important element of the proposal that is not quite what it seems concerns transparency:
It is striking how much the leaked document goes on about public consultation and transparency. “Lighten the Load – Have Your Say” reads the appealing slogan, depicting an ostensibly new style of open governance from the Commission, where business and citizens are to be able to comment again and again on a proposal at almost every stage of the decision process, starting from the very first inception of an idea.
That's misleading because of parallel moves by the European Commission to strengthen and broaden the protection of "trade secrets," as another report by CEO reveals. In practice, then, what greater "transparency" would really mean would be greater opportunities for businesses to lobby during all phases of drawing up new laws and regulations. The public, by contrast, would not have access to the full range of materials, some of which would be deemed "trade secrets." What's striking is that this one-sided kind of transparency is exactly what the US is asking for in TAFTA/TTIP:
This deregulatory push is also clearly related to TTIP, where both businesses and the US government have asked for more "transparency" and "stakeholder participation" in the EU at the very early stages of the legislative process, in fact well before a proposal is even presented to decision-making bodies.
Another key TAFTA/TTIP demand from the US side is the increased use of impact assessments -- just as the new Scrutiny Board would require:
TTIP will boost the use of impact assessments, and will introduce an emphasis on the effect new legislative proposals might have on US companies, on whether it is in sync with US rules, and whether it supersedes international standards.
This "coincidence" suggests that the European Commission is already working on proposals that will meet US demands in TTIP, so that by conceding them -- in theory -- EU negotiators can obtain some of their key goals in return. That may already have happened elsewhere: there is speculation that one reason why the European Commission watered down its key Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) was to accommodate US demands in TTIP's energy chapter. As the TAFTA/TTIP negotiations proceed, we can probably expect to see more proposals from the European Commission that pre-implement US demands in this way.
by Glyn Moody
Thu, Apr 23rd 2015 1:03am
from the ain't-gonna-work dept
For a while now, Techdirt has been writing about the extraordinary corporate sovereignty chapters in trade agreements that grant foreign companies far-reaching powers to sue a government simply for issuing regulations that impact their investments. Recently, there has been a textbook example of how the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) tribunals that adjudicate corporate sovereignty cases are literally a law unto themselves. A post on The Hill explains the background:
A company sought to develop a mining and marine terminal project in Canada, but it had to obtain approval from provincial and federal authorities. As part of that process, the company had to submit an environmental impact study (EIS) addressing the project’s potential impacts on the natural and human environment.
A panel of experts was appointed to review that study, and to issue a recommendation on whether the project should go ahead. The experts recommended against approval, partly on the basis that it would have been inconsistent with "core community values." As a result, the federal and provincial officials rejected the project. The company involved, Bilcon, appealed against that decision, but did so invoking NAFTA's corporate sovereignty provisions. The ISDS tribunal ruled that:
The advisory panel's consideration of "core community values" went beyond the panel’s duty to consider impacts on the "human environment" taking into account the local "economy, life style, social traditions, or quality of life." The arbitrators then proclaimed that the government's decision to reject Bilcon's proposed project based on the experts' recommendation was a violation of the NAFTA.
As The Hill article points out, that shouldn't have happened:
The parties to the NAFTA -- the United States, Canada and Mexico -- have all repeatedly clarified that ISDS is not meant to be a court of appeals sitting in judgment of domestic administrative or judicial decisions.
Nonetheless, the ISDS tribunal's lawyers ignored the clear intent of NAFTA's corporate sovereignty provisions, and issued their judgment dismissing local decisions following national laws. Because of the astonishing way that ISDS works, Canada can't even appeal. However, as the article in The Hill points out, the situation would have been even worse had the ISDS tribunal argued correctly:
It shows that ISDS stymies crucial evolution in domestic law. Under the tribunal's reasoning, a breach of international law arises when government officials interpret vague concepts such as the "human environment" or "socio-economic" impacts using principles or terms not expressly found in earlier decisions. Yet, particularly in common-law jurisdictions such as the US's, law develops in large part through new interpretations, adapting to changing circumstances and times. If this evolving process were indeed a breach of international law, the US should expect to face significant liability to foreign companies, especially as ISDS is included in new treaties with capital-exporting countries.
In fact, there is a first hint that the US government is well aware of these huge problems with corporate sovereignty provisions, and that it is already preparing for the day when it loses a major ISDS case. That hasn't happened so far in part because relatively few foreign companies covered by existing trade agreements with corporate sovereignty provisions have major investments in the US that would allow them to make claims. However, that will change dramatically if an ISDS chapter is included in the TTIP/TAFTA deal currently being negotiated. According to Public Citizen's calculations (pdf):
More than 3,400 parent corporations in EU nations own more than 24,200 subsidiaries in the United States, any one of which could provide the basis for an investor-state claim if TAFTA were to be enacted with ISDS.
That might explain a very interesting aspect of the Fast Track Bill released recently, as Sean M. Flynn, Associate Director, Program on Information Justice, and Intellectual Property Professorial Lecturer in Residence, American University Washington College of Law, explains:
The Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill that was released last week contains a fascinating Section 8 on "Sovereignty." The section appears intended to make all trade agreements with the U.S. not binding to the extent that they contradict any provision of U.S. law, current or future. If valid, the section would go a long way to calming fears in this country that new trade agreements, like the old ones, could be used by corporations or other countries to force the U.S. to alter domestic regulations.
However, Flynn then goes on to argue Section 8 actually has no effect in protecting US law, and that:
If Congress changes our law to be in violation of a treaty commitment, the only way to avoid liability for that change is to re-negotiate the applicable treaties to remove the confining language at issue.
That threat of being sued in international courts for non-compliance with treaties is precisely how corporations have used international agreements to force the signatories to strengthen protection for copyright and patents thanks to measures they themselves lobbied for, and to block any moves to change the law in favor of the public.
by Mike Masnick
Thu, Apr 16th 2015 2:00pm
chuck schumer, fast track, fast track authority, intellectual property, orrin hatch, ron wyden, tafta, trade, trade agreements, trade promotion, trade promotion authority, ttip, ttp, ustr
from the why-do-republicans-want-to-do-this? dept
Back in February, we presented a simple litmus test concerning whether or not any such effort would actually be reasonable on intellectual property issues: would the text of the bill concerning intellectual property be any different than the last fast track authority bill from 2002 (or an attempt to update it in 2014). Both of those bills had nearly verbatim text. And... as we feared, so does this new bill. Given just how much the internet has changed since 2002, it is simply inconceivable to suggest that the same intellectual property rules that made sense then would continue to make sense now. In other words, despite the involvement of Senator Wyden, it appears that little has been done here to make it clear to the USTR that bad IP rules in the TPP or TTIP agreement are unacceptable. That's a disappointment. Here are the key provisions on intellectual property. Note that they are basically all about enforcement (i.e., protectionism) rather than the free flow of information (which is what you'd expect a trade deal to be about).
providing strong protection for new and emerging technologies and new methods of transmitting and distributing products embodying intellectual property, including in a manner that facilitates legitimate digital trade;These are basically word for word the same from 2002. In other words, despite over a decade of seeing how the USTR has used trade deals to browbeat other countries into bad intellectual property laws, this new trade promotion authority is saying "go ahead and continue doing just that, no matter what harm it may do to the internet and all of the economic growth it creates."
preventing or eliminating discrimination with respect to matters affecting the availability, acquisition, scope, maintenance, use, and enforcement of intellectual property rights;
ensuring that standards of protection and enforcement keep pace with technological developments, and in particular ensuring that rightholders have the legal and technological means to control the use of their works through the Internet and other global communication media, and to prevent the unauthorized use of their works;
providing strong enforcement of intellectual property rights, including through accessible, expeditious, and effective civil, administrative, and criminal enforcement mechanisms; and
preventing or eliminating government involvement in the violation of intellectual property rights, including cyber theft and piracy;
Unlike some who are totally against any trade deals, I believe there are ways in which increasing actual free trade can be helpful. I had held out hope that the new trade promotion agreement would be more reasonable than what we'd seen in the past. But just looking at the intellectual property section alone, and the fact that it has remained unchanged since the 2002 version -- despite over a decade of seeing how bad IP policy can hurt internet innovation and economic growth -- suggests that this TPA agreement continues the mistakes of the past, rather than fixes them. That's unfortunate.
And so, now comes a very, very weird fight in Congress. With nearly all Democrats opposed to this bill even including the surprise change in position by Senator Chuck Schumer, we'll have a situation where Congressional Republicans try and convince their colleagues to give President Obama more power, by removing the Constitutional authority from Congress, while Congressional Democrats push back against giving their own President that power. It's a really weird fight in oh so many ways.