All but 28 Democrats in the House voted against fast tracking the TPP. All but 50 Republicans voted for it. Fast track (known as Trade Promotion Authority) passed 218-210. It must now be submitted for ratification to both the House and the Senate for TPP to become law. Fast tracking TPP means that the Senate cannot filibusterer it and it cannot be amended.
Obama wants the TPP ratified. TPP is the Trans Pacific Partnership, the multinational trade agreement that was secretly negotiated by the Obama administration with eleven other Pacific Rim nations.
Environmentalists, unions, humans rights advocates, and animal activists are united in opposition to the TPP. Among it’s many provisions, few are actually about trade. Most of the TPP’s focus is protecting investors. The TPP provides for extra-judicial courts to resolve trade disputes, with the power to override US laws and the US Constitution. As a result of such power, the TPP effectively makes illegal any attempts to protect animals or the environment, it protects child labor and human trafficking. It permits currency manipulation, forces US workers to compete with Third World labor, and allows US corporations to close factories, outsource American jobs, and be subsidized by US taxpayers.
In mid-2015, Congress passed “fast track” for the TPP, which would allow Congress to vote the TPP up or down, once the president presents it to Congress for ratification, without debate or amendments.
Democrats in the House voted overwhelmingly against fast track, while Republicans voted with the Obama administration.
Central to Bernie Sanders’ primary campaign was his opposition to TPP. The issue proved such a popular one that Hillary Clinton announced she was changing her support of the TPP to opposition, in spite of being involved in the early stages of its negotiation, and having lauded it as the “gold standard” of trade agreements dozens of times over her years as Secretary of State
The platform committee at the Democratic convention refused to include language in opposition to the TPP in the party platform. That move was seen by many as avoiding embarrassing Obama, and that Hillary was open to embracing TPP once elected.
Donald Trump made opposition to the TPP central to his campaign as well.
As a result of both Sanders’ and Trump’s vehemence on TPP, public opinion has turned heavily against the trade deal.
The TPP is one of the primary goals of the Obama administration, and Obama has said he wants it voted upon and passed during his term in office.
The Republican leadership in both the House and Senate supports TPP, but both the Republican Majority Leader in the Senate and the Republican Speaker of the House have stated that neither body will take up the TPP during the lame duck session of Congress after the the November elections.
The resolve is likely a ploy to gain concessions from Obama.
There is no doubt Obama will do whatever he can to win approval of the TPP.
Had only five votes for the TPP gone against it, the vote would have been tied. Seven Members did not vote. To defeat the TPP, opponents need to pick up 9 NO votes, five of those who voted for it, and a majority of the 7 who did not vote.
That will be a relatively easy task if Trump is elected in November. With a new Republican administration set to enter the White House in January, House Republicans will undoubtedly defer to Trump’s opposition to the TPP. TPP supporters in the Republican party will no doubt be sensitive to the size of Trump’s vote in their districts, and should be quite concerned that making an enemy of Trump before he is even sworn in would be rather impolitic.
The battle will occur if Trump is defeated.
Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan will be emboldened to try to pass TPP.
Whether it passes or fails will be decided by non-Tea Party Republicans.
There is little room for movement on the Democratic side. All Democrats in the House oppose TPP but for 28 free trade Democrats who are unlikely to switch sides.
Except for 50 Republicans who opposed TPP (mostly Tea Party-types), the entire Republican membership supports TPP, with varying degrees of enthusiasm.
It is among that group of Republicans who supported fast track that votes to defeat TPP must be found.
The most compelling argument for any sitting Republican who plans on remaining in the House is how his or her vote on TPP will play in their district. A very telling indication will be the size of Donald Trump’s vote compared to their own re-election count. If Trump substantially out-polls the incumbent Member of Congress, a very credible case could be made by a future primary challenger that the incumbent is out of touch with the views of the electorate. Such scenarios will likely play out across the country, forcing House Republicans in favor of the TPP to choose between their corporate donors and the folks back home.
The odds are with the opponents, but Obama and the multinational corporations have a lot at stake. Billions for the corporations and his legacy for Obama. They will shower Congress with money and cut deals with whomever they can.
For those of us working to stop the TPP, electing Trump should be a priority.
Hillary, while ostensibly in opposition to the TPP, has been feint-heated in her criticism and vague about what she will do once elected. Trump has vowed to scuttle it.
If Trump wins, the TPP is dead.
If he does not, we will have a battle in the lame duck session.
If that becomes the case, we must take the fight to non-Tea Party House Republicans.
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