Friday, April 24, 2015

Senate Finance Comm. Approves Wyden-Hatch Fast Track Bill


Ron Wyden, one second prior to saying
F-U to progressives who oppose TPP

by Gaius Publius

In a late afternoon and evening session, the Senate Finance Committee has approved the Wyden-Hatch Fast Track bill, 20-6. The bill now goes to the Senate floor. The Hill has the story (my emphasis):
Senate panel approves trade bill

The Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday approved a bill that would streamline passage of global trade deals through Congress.

The panel approved, on a 20-6 vote, a long-awaited trade promotion authority (TPA) ["Fast Track"] measure with the support of seven Democrats, sending the measure to the Senate floor, where it will face another tough test in the coming weeks.

The Democrats who voted to approve were Sens. Ron Wyden (Ore.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Ben Cardin (Md.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Tom Carper (Del.), Mark Warner (Va.) and Michael Bennet (Colo.).

The lone Republican to oppose was Sen. Richard Burr (N.C.).
So, again, your pro-corporate betrayers of American workers are:
  • Ron Wyden — Ranking Member and Lead Perp
  • Michael Bennet — Former head of DSCC who ... well, just read; also here
  • Maria Cantwell — Who just erased any good she's ever done
  • Ben Cardin
  • Tom Carper
  • Bill Nelson
  • Mark Warner — Whom Schumer just brought into Dem Senate leadership
In the same session, the committee voted down an amendment that might have made this tragedy slightly less tragic, by starting to maybe begin to address currency manipulation by the Chinese:
In the most contentious vote of the day, Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) lost their bid — on an 11-15 vote — to include an amendment in the legislation that would have required the White House to include enforceable currency manipulation provisions in international trade agreements.

Five Democrats — Cantwell, Nelson, Carper, Bennet and Warner — and 10 Republicans opposed the amendment.
If three more Democrats had voted with the Democrats, the amendment would have passed. Again, note the pro-corporate perps.

Maria Cantwell, by the way, turned up on another false progressives list — this one — when she voted both ways on last year's Continuing Resolution. She voted Yes to kill the Warren filibuster, then No on the floor when it was obvious the bill would pass anyway (and the big TV lights were on). That's called voting progressive "for show."

Keep in mind that TPP is mainly written by now. Most Fast Track bills precede negotiation on trade treaties. This Fast Track follows its treaty, and grandfathers what's already been agreed to. In other words, any attempt by any committee or house of Congress to modify TPP as written or about to be written will kill the treaty. Good.

Also, good to know. If Congress passes anything in Fast Track legislation that forces modification of TPP, they've effectively destroyed the treaty. Thus, the vote on the Portman-Stabenow amendment was a vote whether or not to kill TPP. The amendment failed, as it had to, if you're on the corporate side.

House Democrats Still Seeking a Path to Yes

When the show eventually moves to the House, Pelosi and House Democrats will attempt to triangulate their "path to yes" with a substitute Fast Track bill:
House Dems back alternative trade bill

House Democratic leaders are coalescing around a fast-track alternative they say would address the outstanding issues in a trade deal spanning from Latin America to the Pacific Rim.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said she will back the trade promotion authority (TPA) option that Rep. Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) is planning to offer in the House’s markup of the legislation on Thursday.

House Democratic leadership met earlier on Wednesday and decided they will all back Levin’s substitute amendment, according to a Pelosi spokesman.

“The leaders agreed to all support the Levin substitute in an effort to try to improve the TPA bill,” the aide said.

Levin, the House Ways and Means Committee’s ranking member, is staunchly opposed to the fast-track bill backed by the leaders of the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
"The leaders agreed." No word on whether House Progressives will back this substitute.

I'm in the progressive camp that says we don't need another billionaire-serving "free trade" agreement. So anything that will kill TPP is fine with me. If the House Democrats craft a "path to yes" that throws a wrench into the TPP deal, that works for me — so long as the new House bill is moot and TPP never gets introduced. But I, like the rest of us, will have to watch this play out. Maybe Democratic "leaders" will find a way to mitigate, say, 3% of the poison in a very bad trade deal. After all, that is a path to yes, and a path frequently taken by Democrats.

Elizabeth Warren Says No TPP Unless It's Made Public

Yet another monkey wrench rears its head (so to speak), and we're thankful to Senator Warren for raising it. This requirement is impossible to fulfill if the treaty is to stay alive. Warren has found the sweet spot of opposition — make the text public:

A simple request, and simple to understand. But if TPP's creators have to choose between releasing the text to the general public or trashing this crack at billionaire rule and moving on to the next attempt, it's a no-brainer. TPP will disappear like a bad dream.

I'll have more on the Warren angle as this moves to the Senate floor. Remember: This is open rebellion from Elizabeth Warren. Does she bring others along? And if Wyden's Fast Track bill is clearly going to pass on the floor, how many votes against it will be "for show"?

This should be over soon; the rush is on, so stay tuned. (If you're interested, all of my TPP coverage is collected here.)


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