Congress Will Give the President the Power to Write His Own Laws with Fast Track
News surfaced this week from the House Ways and Means Committee and Senate Finance Committee, which have jurisdiction over trade accords. Apparently, they agreed on so-called Fast Track legislation that would let the White House negotiate trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that Congress could only approve through an up-or-down vote, without adding amendments.
Fast Track is designed to give the President more authority to act without supervision from Congress, which basically means Congress is giving up their Constitutional authority.
Despite the United States operating for years under Constitutional guidelines which prevented any one leader from dictatorial control over our trade policies, the President is now asking for Fast Track Trade Authority which would push new agreements like the TPP through Congress. Sources say Congress will vote to give the President unconstitutional Fast Track Trade Authority as soon as possible and the bill will be introduced when Congress returns next month.
Under Fast Track the President has the authority to:
- select countries with which to enter into trade agreements, set the substance of talks and then sign those pacts without prior Congressional approval.
- negotiate and include in these trade agreements not only tariffs and quotas, but also changes in federal, state and local laws on taxes, food, health, safety, patents, copyrights, trademarks, immigration, environment, labor standards, and Buy America provisions, among other issues.
- create a Presidential advisory system, comprising 700 industry representatives appointed by the President. These advisors have access to confidential documents kept secret from most members of Congress and the public.
- draft the agreements to implement legislation without Congressional input.
- notify Congress 90 days before signing and entering into an agreement, but the President has unlimited time to submit the implementing bill.
- expedite the passage of the treaty, and to do it without any possible amendments from Congress.
- implement these changes in U.S. law into a treaty that requires the 100 percent approval of all other signatory nations before Congress can revoke or change their content.
If Congress grants President Obama Fast Track Trade Authority, it will guarantee any agreement coming before Congress will be repugnant and filled with corporate handouts that would ship U.S. jobs overseas and undermine our national sovereignty. With an up or down vote, there would be limited time to debate and discuss these agreements.
There would be no provision for revisions made to the agreement, no matter how bad it is for us, which makes it easy for proponents to strong-arm representatives into voting for bad agreements, as the only alternative is no agreement at all.
While many would prefer no agreement to a bad agreement, there are likely many Congressional representatives who do not see it that way, and will prefer any agreement over none at all.
Congress absolutely must not give the president Fast Track Authority! A growing coalition of politicians on the right and left are realizing this fact, but their ranks need to be bolstered if this agreement is to be stopped. Contact your representative today and tell them to vote no on Fast Track Trade Authority.