Fast-Track Trade Legislation Suffers Setback in Senate

In a victory for workers, health and safety, the environment and democracy, a motion to bring Trade Promotion Authority to the Senate floor failed to garner the necessary votes, halting the effort to fast track the secretive, job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal….for now.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka on the vote:

“That’s good news for America’s working families, domestic producers, and communities.  We appreciate those senators who stood with working people today against a bill that would have led to undemocratic trade deals that lower wages and eliminate jobs.  This vote sends a message loud and clear.”

Among the Senators who voted against allowing this flawed bill to proceed were California’s Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer.

While the vote was a major setback to corporate interests pushing fast track legislation, the fight is far from over. Republican leaders have promised to bring the legislation back for consideration in the coming days.

In Sunday’s San Francisco Chronicle, California Labor Federation leader Art Pulaski and Sarah Rose, head of the California League of Conservation Voters, detailed the stakes in stopping Fast Track, which would keep the text of the TPP secret and clear the way for a flawed trade deal that could lead to hundreds of thousands of lost jobs and irreparable harm to our environment.

Pulaski and Rose:

Democracy is dependent upon transparency and open, public debate. But fast-track legislation, also known as Trade Promotion Authority, allows corporate lobbyists and other power brokers to shape trade deals to their advantage while shielding the details from the public.

That’s why California leaders must say “no” to fast-tracking a huge trade deal like the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The TPP is an expansive trade deal that the United States is negotiating with a dozen countries including Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Right now, the TPP deal covering a staggering 40 percent of the world’s gross domestic product is being negotiated in extreme secrecy by former corporate lobbyists, with little information available to the public or members of Congress about the impact on jobs, the environment and our economy. No drafts of TPP texts have been released. More than 600 corporate advisers are actively working to shape the agreement while the public is being kept in the dark. That’s unacceptable.

Previous trade agreements have failed miserably in living up to the promise of new jobs. In fact, the North American Free Trade Agreement cost the United States 650,000 jobs, according to the Economic Policy Institute. And not just any jobs, but good, family-supporting jobs that sustain our state’s middle class. NAFTA also led to an array of disastrous environmental outcomes ranging from a jump in greenhouse gas emissions to increased pesticide use to deforestation.

There’s no reason to believe the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement would be any different from previous trade deals that have ripped hundreds of thousands of California workers from the middle class and harmed the environment at home and in neighboring countries. In fact, based on what little information is available, the TPP would continue the failed status quo of previous agreements and introduce new problems for California, including copyright provisions that would stifle innovation in our state’s technology sector.

Read the full op-ed here.

Take action today to tell Sen. Feinstein to stay strong in opposing Fast Track! –> ecovote.org/NoFastTrack