Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) says passing a pending trade agreement would be “a continuation of failed trade policy” that has resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of manufacture facilities and American jobs. He added that corporations have had to shut down in America and move to China and Mexico – losing thousands of jobs here in the United States.
“In my view it is wrong to ask American workers to compete against people in Vietnam” because the minimum wage there is much lower, Sanders said.
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) has raised similar concerns in recent weeks.
He says the fast-track trade legislation would cause Congress to hand over power to the Executive Branch in trade negotiations. Sessions also argues the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which President Obama has been pushing, would lower wages and eliminate hundreds if not thousands of manufacturing jobs.
The concern many critics share about the fast-track trade authority is that it gives the president – for the next six years – the power to conduct trade negotiations, and Congress would not be allowed to offer any amendments or to strike any provision.
Breitbart News previously reported that no fast-track trade bill has been defeated by Congress in the past 40 years.
Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has been a cheerleader for the fast-track trade authority and TPP. The fast-track trade authority legislation passed out of his committee 20 to 6.
His office sent out a press release earlier this week titled “Hatch Debunks Myth of Secret Trade Deals” writing:
Under TPA, before Congress can consider a trade deal for a vote, an administration must meet strict negotiating objectives for trade deals set by Congress and must extensively consult and provide transparency with Congress before, during and after negotiations.
Hatch adds, “Only after the President has met these notification and consultation requirements, only after he has provided the required reports, and only after he has made the agreement available to the American people, may he finally sign the agreement. The process this bill requires before an agreement is even signed is obviously quite complex, full of checks and balances, and provides unprecedented transparency for the American public.”
According to Sessions’ office, the TPP under fast-track authority is a massive global agreement that would impact forty percent of the global GDP.
Furthermore, what many Senators – including Sessions – are concerned with is that the text of the trade agreement wouldn’t be made public until after it has been awarded fast-track, which Breitbart News highlighted during yesterday’s exchange between Hatch and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).
Sessions also argues that the TPP contains an entire section titled “Temporary Entry” that is used to admit foreign workers into America, without bringing the proposal to Congress beforehand for approval.
Clyde Prestowitz, a trade negotiator who worked for Presidents Reagan and Clinton, tells Breitbart News, “The Senate vote for fast track was much closer than anyone expected. Because the Senate has always been more favorable to the fast track (TPA) procedure than the House, the closeness of the vote suggests that the legislation may well fail in the House where opposition by both Republicans and Democrats is much stronger.”
“I think the Senate now needs to pass separate legislation proposed by Senators Portman and Stabenow on currency manipulation and to make that part of any TPP legislation that may eventually be proposed,” Prestowitz concluded.
If the Senate hasn’t reached a unanimous consent agreement to hold the vote at another time by Friday at 5 PM, then the legislation will proceed to a final vote, and only amendments that are already pending may be issued a vote.