Labor, environmental and consumer advocates within Citizens Trade Campaign (CTC) and beyond are voicing unified opposition to Fast Track legislation introduced by Representative David Camp (MI) and Senator Max Baucus.
The Camp-Baucus bill seeks to revive the 2002 Fast Track mechanism that would allow pacts such as the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to be signed by the Executive Branch before the public has an opportunity to review any texts, and then be rushed through Congress circumventing ordinary review, amendment and debate procedures. CTC member organizations, Congressional leaders and allied organizations pledged to defeat this legislation.
“Unfettered fast track, as the Camp-Baucus proposal calls for, is a recipe for continued outsourcing and offshoring of jobs. The American people are sick and tired of one-way trade. The USW will vigorously oppose the proposal and any efforts to provide preferential and expedited treatment for trade deals that fail to reform and update our nation’s trade policies and allow negotiations to continue to be cloaked in secrecy,” said United Steelworkers international president Leo Gerard.
“America lost nearly 700,000 jobs because of NAFTA. Jobs have been shipped across borders, gutting the middle class. We can’t make that same mistake again,” said Teamsters president James P. Hoffa. “Corporate America loves to tout the growth in trade due to NAFTA. But those dollars have largely gone into the pockets of top executives.”
“Fast track is the wrong track when it comes to a trade deal like the Trans-Pacific Partnership that will affect our laws, our jobs, our food and our environment. [It] forces Congress to give up its Constitutional right to amend and improve this trade deal, which now is reportedly more than 1,000 pages long,” said Communications Workers of America president Larry Cohen.
“The IAM strongly opposes the bill… This legislation does not represent the new, transparent trade policy that our economy desperately needs and that U.S. workers deserve. It would make it even easier to obtain passage of the soon to be finalized Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP). If TPP is finalized and implemented, it would wreak havoc on U.S. manufacturing workers as thousands of more jobs will be outsourced to countries that do not respect human rights,” said IAM President Tom Buffenbarger.
“The Sierra Club opposes fast track, an outdated and inappropriate mechanism for trade pacts as expansive as the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement and the proposed U.S.-EU trade deal. This legislation strips Congress of its defining democratic characteristic — its check-and-balance structure. If Congress is not able to fully debate and, if necessary, amend the language of these all-encompassing trade pacts, the environment, our climate, and our families could suffer as a result,” said Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune.
“The Baucus-Camp Fast Track bill turns the U.S. Constitution upside down. Congress must not give away its constitutional authority and facilitate the ratification of an environmentally destructive Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement,” said Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth.
“It’s rare these days that across the aisle, Congress agrees on anything, so it’s notable that a large bipartisan bloc insists on maintaining the exclusive constitutional authority over trade that the Founding Fathers wisely granted to Congress,” said Lori Wallach, director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch.
Congressional leaders have spoken out against the Camp-Baucus legislation. Representatives Rosa DeLauro (CT), Louise Slaughter (NY) and George Miller (CA), authors of a November letter in which 151 Democratic Members of Congress voice their opposition to Fast Track, released a joint statement, which read: “At the core of the Baucus-Camp bill is the same Fast Track mechanism that failed us from 2002 – 2007. Our constituents did not send us to Washington to ship their jobs overseas, and Congress will not be a rubber stamp for another flawed trade deal that will hang the middle class out to dry.”
“The Baucus-Camp bill is a disappointing repeat of failed trade policy from 2002 that will continue the trends of growing trade deficits, a declining manufacturing sector, and the offshoring of American jobs. This bill may represent the ideas of the two committee chairmen, but it does not reflect Americans’ views on trade and falls far short of being a truly bipartisan bill. That’s why I will oppose it,” said Representative Mike Michaud (ME).
Representative Sander Levin (MI), ranking member of the House Ways & Means Committee, said, “The effort by Sen. Baucus, Rep. Camp and Sen. Hatch has fallen far short of adequately replacing the failed 2002 [Fast Track] model. I do not support their proposal.”
In a separate statement Senators Sherrod Brown (OH), Bob Casey (PA), Ben Cardin (MD), Debbie Stabenow (MI) and Rober Menendez (NJ), all members of the Senate Finance Committee, said, “We remain concerned by the lack of progress being made in the Trans-Pacific Partnership on a number of key priorities raised by several Senators, and it is particularly troubling that some of our potential trading partners have been regressing on human rights in recent years… Since [Fast Track] provides the statutory requirements for how USTR will consult with Congress far into the future, it should represent an approach that is much better than that which is employed today, particularly at critical stages before and during trade negotiations. We are not prepared to support [Fast Track] legislation that resembles the current framework for consultations.”
Allied organizations are likewise speaking out. ”[The] bill submitted today by Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus and Senate Finance Ranking Member Orrin Hatch is out of date, poorly conceived, and bad for American workers. For that reason, the AFL-CIO opposes this legislation in the strongest of terms and will actively work to block its passage,” said AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka.
“Fast track authorization is a threat to our democracy and our sovereignty. It is a legislative procedure that facilitates closed-door deal making… The stakes are too high for Congress to tie its own hands when it comes to modifying trade deals it had little role in developing in the first place,” said AFSCME president Lee Saunders.
“It’s deplorable that Congress would consider giving up their oversight role and allow the White House to push for an accelerated timetable for something as critical and far-reaching as the TPP,” said Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter.
“If Congress approves Fast Track, it’s not just delegating its trade authority to the White House, it’s effectively signaling its tacit approval of the largest corporate-driven trade agreement in U.S. history before even seeing it,” said Jesse Bragg, press secretary at Corporate Accountability International. “The TPP is a corporate wish list disguised as a trade agreement. The question we need to ask is: ‘Do we really want to be put in the position to have to blindly approve an agreement devised by the likes of Walmart, Big Tobacco, and Chevron without even being able to amend it?’”
CTC encourages its supporters to urge Members of Congress to oppose the Camp-Baucus Fast Track bill.