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Congress Alert

Congressional Leaders Subverting Regular Procedure to Rush Through Fast Track Authority?


Is fast track being fast tracked? George Zornick at the Nation today suggests that the fast track authority for President Barack Obama to enter the United States into the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a massive, wide-scope international agreement, may soon be rushed through Congress without adequate opportunity for Congress members and the American people to consider the matter. This circumvention of regular process in Congress and of public scrutiny should not be a surprise given that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) support the granting of this presidential power that Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), a Ron Paul Institute Advisory Board member, calls “absolutely a threat on our Constitution, on our sovereignty.”

Read here Zornick’s article detailing the subversion of regular process, including through holding a Senate committee hearing on the fast track bill before the bill is even available to read, in order to obtain quick Senate approval of the fast track authority.

Michael McAuliff provides in the Huffington Post additional details regarding Senate chicanery that appeared suddenly today concerning the fast track legislation.

McAuliff also explains that the fast track legislation has implications far beyond the TPP. Passing fast track legislation, he notes, could give Obama authority to enter into additional international agreements, such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, as well. Under fast track authority (sometimes called trade promotion authority), all these agreements would be binding on the US unless voted down in the House and Senate via an expedited, streamlined process. McAuliff underlines the potential grand ramifications of fast track legislation when he writes:
The fast track authority will likely pave the way for both the controversial Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement with the European Union and the Trans-Pacific Partnership with a dozen Asian nations. Both deals are vastly larger than NAFTA, and would involve about two-thirds of the entire world’s economy. Currently, the United States has trade agreements covering just 10 percent of world trade.
Turning procedure on its head to pass major legislation, as with the USA PATRIOT ACT in 2001 and the USA FREEDOM Act last year, without adequate review is a maneuver in which House and Senate leaders are well-versed.
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