Many thanks to our Rep. John Garamendi for going on record against the outdated “fast track” procedure that usurps Congress’ constitutional authority over trade matters. This includes most importantly the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement now under negotiation by the United States with New Zealand, Australia, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, Canada, Peru and Chile.
It’s very important to me that Garamendi, along with 151 other concerned House Democrats, signed the letter by Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., and George Miller, D-Calif., to President Obama stating their concerns that fast track undermines Congress’ legitimate legislative process by speeding the TPP trade agreement through Congress with only limited debate on a very complicated technical trade bill and no amendments allowed.
It is important that Garamendi has taken a stand against fast track because on Jan. 9, Sens. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, introduced the Trade Priorities Act of 2014, also known as the “fast track” bill, to Congress. Obama wants “fast track” so he can railroad the TPP “free” trade agreement through Congress. Obama wants fast track in order to cut deals with the other 11 TPP country negotiators on sensitive issues of trade that will impact our public health, labor and access to medicines as well as undermine needed environmental protections without fear that the TPP will be changed by Congress.
Over four years, Obama has secretly negotiated the TPP with no congressional participation or authorization. Yet, Congress has sole constitutional authority “to regulate trade with foreign nations” (Commerce Clause, Article 1, Section 8). While Congress and we have been excluded, 600 corporate lobbyists have had access to trade negotiators and the text to make sure their demands are met. Only recently have our elected representatives, even those with top security clearances, been permitted to read the text, but only on the condition they not discuss it publicly.
Garamendi will be getting pressure from the White House and Obama to change his position, but I know he’ll stand firm that Congress must its their constitutional right over trade agreements.