June 19, 2015
U.S. House approves “fast-track” bill, punts to the Senate
Unfortunately, members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted 218-208 on Thursday to give President Obama power to “fast-track” through Congress passage of the dangerous Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
“Today, the House employed yet another procedural gimmick to punt the Fast Track problem back to the Senate, where its fate remains at best unclear as Americans’ concerns that more of the same trade policy would kill more jobs and push down our wages remain unaddressed,” said Lori Wallach, Director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch.
Out of North Carolina’s 13-member delegation, Reps. Mark Meadows and Walter Jones were the only Republicans to join Democratic Reps. G.K. Butterfield, David Price, and Alma Adams in voting against fast-track.
Voting for more NAFTA-style “free trade” were Reps. Renee Ellmers (R-2nd), Virginia Foxx (R-5th), Mark Walker (R-6th), David Rouzer (R-7th), Richard Hudson (R-8th), Robert Pittenger (R-9th), Patrick McHenry (R-10th), and George Holding (R-13th).
“Those members of the House of Representatives who voted for Fast Track trade authority today have seriously misjudged the voice and will of the American people,” said the Communication Workers of America in a statement after the vote.
In order to pass fast-track (aka, Trade Promotion Authority), House Republicans had to decouple it from must-pass companion legislation to give help for workers who will inevitably lose their jobs because of the TPP and other agreements already in the pipeline behind TPP. That legislation, known as Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), went down in flames last week.
The vote this week sends the new fast-track bill over to the U.S. Senate, where there is still a chance to stop it – and the TPP along with it.
“It will be an uphill battle, but there is a chance to stop it in the Senate now that Fast Track has been de-coupled from TAA,” said Kevin Cooper, National Political Director for the CWA, which has led the union fight against the TPP. “Most Democrat Senators have stated publicly that they would not support a Fast Track bill that did not have TAA in it.”
N.C. Democrats held the line against President Obama
Reps. Adams, Butterfield, and Price all voted against fast-track after months of intense lobbying – especially of Rep. David Price – led by AFL-CIO members and our allies at Global Trade Watch, Food & Water Watch, the NC Justice Center, and elsewhere at press conferences, town halls, constituency meetings, and in-office visits – as well as a sustained campaign of emails and phone calls, multiple videos, many letters–to–the–editor, and community resolutions adopted against fast-track and the TPP.
Earlier this week our supporters delivered a thank you message to Rep. Adams for being the “People’s Champ” in voting against fast-track and TAA (to defeat fast-track).
For now the fate of President Obama’s gambit to fast-track the TPP rests with our U.S. Senators, of whom both Richard Burr and Thom Tillis have previously sided with Wall Street and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in support.
Nevertheless, you can call our Senators to register your disapproval of putting the TPP (aka NAFTA on steroids) on an undemocratic fast-track to passage: Sen. Richard Burr at (202) 224-3154 and Sen. Thom Tillis at (202) 224-6342.
“We are at the end of the second quarter and the score is tied 1-1,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. “We look forward to the third and fourth quarters.”
“Workers’ resolve is firmer than ever. We will fight at every level and in every way to protect American workers and our economy by rejecting Fast Track and this corporate trade deal.” — Richard Trumka, 6/18/15