Freshman GOP congresswoman Rep. Mimi Walters (R-CA) has been on television pushing Obamatrade—appearing Monday on Morning Joe on MSNBC to do so—but her office admits publicly she hasn’t read the bill she wants to fast-track through Congress.
Walters, whom Mika Brzezinski noted is the official “liaison” between House GOP freshmen and Speaker John Boehner’s leadership team, appeared on Morning Joe to push Obamatrade. Walters said:
Currently, what we are working on is Trade Promotion Authority. That issue we expect to take up by the end of the month. And what Trade Promotion Authority, known as TPA, is it’s really the framework of giving the president the opportunity to negotiate trade agreements with other countries. It’s very, very important that we pass this piece of legislation. It’s bipartisan. One in five jobs in America are created because of free trade, 95 percent of consumers are outside of the United States and if America doesn’t take the lead on trade then China is going to. I want America to take the lead and set the standards on trade.
But when Breitbart News asked Walters’ spokeswoman Christine Hardman later on Monday—after she blasted out video of the congresswoman’s appearance on Morning Joe, highlighting her support for Obamatrade—if Walters has been to the secret room inside the Capitol to read the text of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) that TPA would fast track, collectively known as Obamatrade, Hardman confirmed Walters has not been there to read it.
Hardman said when asked if she’s been to the secret room to read the TPP text:
Rep. Walters has had numerous discussions regarding the TPP text, especially on the treatment of agricultural products, which are particularly vital to California’s economy. With the impending passage of TPA, Rep. Walters will be exercising the numerous congressional oversight rights. It is important to remember that without TPA, President Obama would have much more power to negotiate Free Trade Agreements (FTAs). Without TPA, the President would have unlimited authority to negotiate FTAs while keeping Congress and the American public in the dark.
This makes Walters the third member of House GOP leadership to confirm they are pushing for Obamatrade even though they haven’t been to the room to read the text of TPP. She joins House Rules Committee chairman Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) and Majority Whip Steve Scalise in admitting she didn’t go to the secret room to read TPP to learn about what she’s actually voting on. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Speaker John Boehner are both refusing to answer the question.
Of course, as Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) said last month on the Senate floor, the country doesn’t need to pass TPA to deliver transparency. Alongside Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Warren, Boxer, and more from a bipartisan group of senators have laid out how, at the beginning of the George W. Bush administration—when he was seeking fast-track Trade Promotion Authority—he publicly released draft text of a deal that would have been fast-tracked.
Right now, the text of the TPP is being kept in the basement of the Capitol in secure facilities on both the House and Senate sides—and only members of Congress, and some staffers with high enough clearance levels who can only go in the room with members, are allowed in there to read it. Obama could publicly release that text if he wanted to, but he has thus far decided to keep it secret.
When asked why Congresswoman Walters supports the deal, even with the secrecy surrounding it, her spokeswoman Hardman told Breitbart News that Walter supports Obama’s decision to hide it from America.
“The TPP holds great economic potential in that it proposes to further integrate 12 diverse economies in the Asia-Pacific region,” Hardman said, and went on:
This will require the participating nations to remove protectionist tariffs and non-tariff barriers on its most sensitive products, such as Japan’s protection of its automobile industry. Our trade negotiators need to maintain confidentiality over the agreement in order to secure the best deal for America. We would put the U.S. at a disadvantage if we were to hand over our ‘playbook’ by releasing these negotiating texts. In fact, a federal court recently agreed that the U.S. may withhold such information, even stating that releasing the negotiating text ‘could limit the flexibility of U.S. negotiators.’ Further, the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has repeatedly engaged over 660 private-sector advisors that serve on numerous Trade Advisory Committees, which represent all sectors of the economy.
What’s more, when asked why the congresswoman thinks that passing TPA would help empower Congress—even though it lowers vote thresholds necessary to enter an international pact like TPP—and what would be different between this time and all previous trade deals on fast track, since none in U.S. history have ever been stopped, Hardman argued Walters thinks it’ll help give Congress an upper hand. She also cited how Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) backs Obamatrade as intellectual cover for her argument:
Representative Walters supports TPA because it empowers Congress, not President Obama. This is the same point highlighted by Senator Ted Cruz in his strong support of TPA. By providing 150 detailed negotiating objectives, Congress will set the parameters of any future Free Trade Agreement (FTAs), including those FTAs negotiated by the next President. Further, this version of TPA provides for robust oversight and transparency measures, including: requiring the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to brief any Member of Congress on the status of negotiations, allowing any Member the right to become a ‘congressional advisor’ in negotiations, and requiring the President to publish the text of any FTA 60 days before it can become law. Finally, Congress retains the ultimate power to disapprove any FTAs that fails to meet the required negotiating objectives.
Walters’ argument on Morning Joe was that Obamatrade would help America beat China in international trade. When asked how that was the case, when President Obama very publicly last week confirmed that China is not only seeking to become part of the TPP deal, but is in negotiations with the president himself and his cabinet officials to do so. Walters doesn’t seem to care about that contradiction in logic, as her spokeswoman Hardman actually said the congresswoman is cool with China becoming a part of the secretive deal.
“The U.S. has been an integral part of the TPP negotiations from the beginning,” Hardman said. “Thus, the U.S. has exerted substantial influence on writing the rules of the road for trade in the 21st Century. China’s potential accession to the TPP would mean that China would have to adhere to U.S.-approved trade rules. China would have to meet the rules we set. In contrast, if the U.S. were to abandon the TPP, China will lead the Asia-Pacific region with its proposed trade deal – the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Again, as pointed out by Senator Ted Cruz in his support of TPA, the U.S. simply cannot afford to disengage from such a vital part of the world, especially when China is ready to fill the void.”