House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) is coming under more fire from his own Republican conference, as Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) and five other Republicans are calling on Ryan to pressure the White House to release full Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) text before the House votes to fast-track that deal’s approval via Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).
“Last Wednesday, President Obama said that the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) could be amended after its adoption to add China to the agreement, raising new questions about the powers Congress is ceding to the executive through fast-track approval,” Brooks and Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Walter Jones (R-NC), Ted Yoho (R-FL), and Gary Palmer (R-AL) wrote on Wednesday to Ryan in a letter that was just made public this morning.
“As a result, we believe it is essential before any vote on TPA that the White House provide for full and complete public viewing of the TPP and summary documents explaining how the ‘living agreement’ provision of the TPP will operate as well as all powers and authorities delegated to the ‘Trans Pacific Partnership Commission’ (Commission) that will be created by the TPP,” the members write in the Brooks letter.
They also sent Ryan several questions about how the new Commission created by TPP—what Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) calls a new “global governance”—would operate.
“What vote threshold will the Commission operate on?” Brooks and the others asked Ryan.
After that, Brooks and the other members noted that there are several other concerns they have with this whole process.
Certainly, these are not the only issues related to ceding fast-track authority to the President, and this is in no way an exhaustive list of concerns about fast-track, the TPP, or any other agreements (such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership or the Trade in Services Agreement) that would be expedited under fast-track’s guarantee of no amendments, severely constrained debate, and the lowest possible vote thresholds (including the elimination of treaty powers). However, at a minimum, given the threats to Congressional power that have accrued in recent years and the loss of U.S. sovereignty, the House should in no way consider a further reduction in Congressional power and U.S. sovereignty until these materials have been made public and these questions have been answered in full.
This is significant because Brooks now, with this letter, is publicly a “no” vote on Obamatrade, along with about 40 fellow Republicans. Many other members aren’t breaking one way or the other, but Ryan did say on Fox News on Thursday morning that he thinks leadership has the votes.