House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) have both said passing Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) to give President Obama fast-track authority to finish his trade negotiations on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the Trade in Services Act (TiSA) is the only way for Congress and the public to see what is in Obama’s trade deals, as Breitbart News previously reported.
However, this is false. Even without TPA, Obama’s trade deal would go through the same process as every other piece of legislation, as Senate staff has explained to Breitbart News. In fact, it is fast-track authority that eliminates Congress’ oversight throughout the negotiations.
“Fast Track is such an extreme power grab that in the past 21 years Congress has only allowed it to go into effect for five years total. Why? Because under the U.S. Constitution, Congress is supposed to write the laws and set trade policy. For 200 years, these key checks and balances helped ensure that no one branch of government had too much power. But, starting with Nixon, presidents have tried to seize those congressional powers using the Fast Track mechanism,” the Public Citizen previously argued in opposition to fast-track authority.
But proponents for fast-track authority argue that giving the president the power to negotiate without congressional input gives him more credibility with foreign nations.
“There’s a trade negotiation going on, and like any other negotiation that goes on, you don’t want to air out what everybody’s positions are. That’s not what we’re voting on. By passing Trade Promotion Authority we’ll actually give Congress more openness, more involvement in what the trade agreement may look like if we ever get one, and goal posts along the way,” Boehner said Thursday.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) has been whistling the same tune, saying TPA must be passed to find out what is in Obama’s trade deal.
“It’s declassified and made public once it’s agreed to,” Ryan said.
However, Bush posted his trade agreement text before he asked for even partial fast-track authority, as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) previously said.
“Post the deal. That’s all it takes,” Warren said in an earlier interview with HuffPost. “I will stop complaining about transparency if they will post a scrubbed version of the TPP, which is available now down in a secret location here in Congress. Post it now, before you ask us to vote on greasing the skids to get this thing done.”
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) has been a leading Republican voice in opposition to the TPA – granting Obama fast-track authority.
“The entire purpose of fast-track is for Congress to surrender its power to the executive for six years. Legislative concessions include: control over the content of legislation, the power to fully consider that legislation on the floor, the power to keep debate open until Senate cloture is invoked, and the constitutional requirement that treaties receive a two-thirds vote. Legislation cannot even be amended,” noted a press release from Sessions’ office.
“By contrast, without fast-track, Congress retains all of its legislative powers, individual members retain all of their procedural tools, and every single line, jot and tittle of trade text is publicly available before any Congressional action is taken.”