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"Fast Track" Hurdles and Development Concerns Remain‎ After House Trade Votes

category international | elections / politics | news report author Friday June 12, 2015 21:41author by Sophia Har Report this post to the editors

A package of trade bills stalled today when the US House of Representatives defeated one portion of the package while voting in favor of another. Trade Adjustment Assistance, a program to assist US workers who lose their jobs because of trade agreements, failed by a vote of 302-126. This worker assistance is part of the Trade Act of 2015 which would give President Obama Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) to move international trade agreements through Congress without amendment. Congress must pass trade assistance within two remaining legislative days in order for TPA or "fast track" to be sent to President Obama's desk.


A package of trade bills stalled today when the US House of Representatives defeated one portion of the package while voting in favor of another. Trade Adjustment Assistance, a program to assist US workers who lose their jobs because of trade agreements, failed by a vote of 302-126. This worker assistance is part of the Trade Act of 2015 which would give President Obama Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) to move international trade agreements through Congress without amendment. Congress must pass trade assistance within two remaining legislative days in order for TPA or "fast track" to be sent to President Obama's desk.


"Whether or not the package passes, Congress can amend harmful arbitration provisions that favor predatory actors over vulnerable people," said Eric LeCompte, executive director of the religious anti-poverty organization Jubilee USA Network.


The House Rules Committee rejected an amendment by Congressman Mark Pocan to prevent Congress from using Trade Promotion Authority to advance trade deals that contain Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanisms. These mechanisms allow companies to sue countries over disputes related to trade agreements. Predatory financial firms are known to use the tribunals to sue countries in economic distress to collect on debts purchased on the secondary market. In 2013, a Slovakian firm sued Greece, arguing that the country's debt restructuring violated the terms of its investment treaties with Slovakia and Cyprus. On May 22, the Senate defeated a similar amendment to the Senate TPA bill 60-39.


The Senate additionally failed to pass a "fast track" amendment from Senator Michael Bennett to "ensure that trade policies and agreements contribute to the reduction of poverty and the elimination of hunger."


"Congress must amend trade agreements to diminish global poverty," noted LeCompte.


Read more about Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanisms and the Bennett Amendment.


Jubilee USA Network is an alliance of more than 75 US organizations and 400 faith communities working with 50 Jubilee global partners. Jubilee's mission is to build an economy that serves, protects and promotes the participation of the most vulnerable. Jubilee USA has won critical global financial reforms and more than $130 billion in debt relief to benefit the world's poorest people. www.jubileeusa.org


Available for interview: Eric LeCompte, Executive Director
Contact: Sophia Har, Communications Director
sophia@jubileeusa.org / (o) (202) 783-3566 x101 (m) (651) 815-1818


###

author by 1 of Indymediapublication date Wed Jun 24, 2015 23:57author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The commondreams.org website reports:

'A Great Day for Corporate America': US Senate Passes Fast Track

'Shameful' vote all but ensures approval of mammoth trade deals like the TransPacific Partnership

In a win for multinational corporations and the global one percent, the U.S. Senate on Tuesday narrowly advanced Fast Track, or Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) —ensuring for all practical purposes the continued rubber-stamping of clandestine trade agreements like the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

The cloture motion to end debate needed 60 votes and it got just that, passing the chamber 60-37. The full roll call is here. A final vote will come on Wednesday. Having overcome the biggest hurdle, the legislation is expected to pass, and will then be sent to President Barack Obama's desk to become law.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who campaigned vigorously against Fast Track, said the vote represented a win for corporate America. "The vote today—pushed by multi-national corporations, pharmaceutical companies and Wall Street—will mean a continuation of disastrous trade policies which have cost our country millions of decent-paying jobs," the presidential candidate said in a statement.

And Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), another of the most vocal opponents of Fast Track, railed against TPA moments before the vote, accusing Congress of turning on its "moral" obligation to assist the working class.

"How shameful," Brown said. "We’re making this decision knowing that people will lose their jobs because of our action."

....
Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, pointed out that the vote only came about via "elaborate legislative contortions and gimmicks designed to hand multinational corporations their top priority."

Such contortions were necessary, she added, "because the American people overwhelmingly oppose these deals, notwithstanding an endless barrage of propaganda."

Indeed, response from the progressive grassroots was fast—and furious.

"We’re outraged that Congress today voted to fast track pollution, rather than the job-creating clean energy we need to address climate change," said May Boeve, executive director of 350.org. "It's clear this deal would extend the world’s dependence on fracked gas, forbid our negotiators from ever using trade agreements in the fight against global warming, and make it easier for big polluters to burn carbon while suing anyone who gets in the way. That’s why we’re so disappointed President Obama has taken up the banner for ramming this legislative pollution through the halls of Congress, in a way he never pushed for a climate bill."

Groups threatened political fall-out for those Democrats who voted in favor of Fast Track.

"Senate Democrats who just voted to proceed on Fast Track for the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership openly betrayed the grassroots Democratic activists who helped elect them and have been exceedingly clear in their opposition to any legislation that allows more NAFTA-style trade deals to be jammed through Congress," said Jim Dean, chair of Democracy for America. "The Senate Democrats who allowed Fast Track should know that this vote will be remembered, it will not be erased, and we will hold you accountable."


Full text at link

shameful_fast_track_in_senate.jpg

Related Link: http://www.commondreams.org/news/2015/06/23/great-day-corporate-america-us-senate-passes-fast-track
 
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