Marco Rubio—who declared the Trans-Pacific Partnership to be one of three essential “pillars” of a Rubio Presidency—is now taking issue with a Wall Street Journal news report that lists Rubio as supporting the unpopular Obamatrade pact he voted to fast-track.
The Wall Street Journal article observed that: “Still backing the trade legislation are the party’s establishment wing candidates: Sen. Marco Rubio and former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida and Govs. John Kasich of Ohio and Chris Christie of New Jersey.”
Indeed, it was in the very pages of the Wall Street Journal that on April 29th Rubio wrote: “We must rebuild our own military capabilities, conclude and pass TPP, and renew our support for freedom and the rule of law in Asia.”
Then, on May 13th, Rubio declared: “It is more important than ever that Congress give the president [Barack Obama] trade promotion authority so that he can finalize the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Moreover, Rubio cast a vote for the final passage of the Trade Promotion Authority—also known as fast-track—all but guaranteeing formation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, as no deal placed on a fast-track has ever been blocked. That is because fast-track eliminates all amendments, eliminates the filibuster and treaty vote, and authorizes the President to finalize and sign the agreement. As Obamatrade opponent Jeff Sessions wrote: “A vote for fast-track is a vote to authorize the President to ink the secret deal contained in these pages—to affix his name on the Union and to therefore enter the United States into it.”
But after the Wall Street Journal listed Rubio as supporting the pact, a new paragraph suddenly appeared at the end of the piece stating that “Mr. Rubio’s spokesman said that although he backed the bill granting Mr. Obama fast-track trade authority this summer, he has not decided whether to support TPP legislation.”
Contrary to the spokesman’s statement, however, Rubio has explicitly articulated his support for TPP. In his April op-ed, Rubio affixed his name to an editorial declaring that we “must… pass TPP.”
“The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), discussed between President Obama and Prime Minister Abe this week, will further our strategic goals in Asia and increase prosperity at home. It will advance economic liberty and unleash free-market forces in the world’s most dynamic region… We must rebuild our own military capabilities, conclude and pass TPP, and renew our support for freedom and the rule of law in Asia. Too often over the past six years, U.S. leaders have spoken of their attention to Asia but failed to back up the rhetoric with action.”
Similarly, in an address to the Council on Foreign Relations in May of this year, Rubio described TPP as the “second pillar” of his three-pillar foreign policy strategy.
“My second pillar,” Rubio declared, “is the protection of the American economy in a globalized world… It is more important than ever that Congress give the president [Barack Obama] trade promotion authority so that he can finalize the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.”
Following these pronouncements, Rubio voted to fast-track TPP. Sen. Rubio cast the 60th and deciding vote for Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), a controversial fast-track mechanism for ramming trade treaties through Congress with minimum scrutiny, to clear the Senate’s filibuster.
In a message warning Senators to oppose the fast-track mechanism, Jeff Sessions specifically cited the fact that it would speed the creation of a TPP Commission. He explained: “This nation has never seen an agreement that compares to the TPP, which forms a new Pacific Union. This is far more than a trade agreement, but creates a self-governing and self-perpetuating Commission with extraordinary implications for American workers and American sovereignty.”
Sessions is one of the few Senators to visit the basement room in the Capitol where lawmakers had to go read the provisions in question. After the text was made public, Sessions pointed to the now-public chapter 27 “Administrative And Institutional Provisions” and article 27.1 “The Establishment of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Commission,” which contains the very language Sessions warned about. In a statement on November 5th, Sessions quoted at length from this chapter and observed that:
This new structure is known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Commission – a Pacific Union – which meets, appoints unelected bureaucrats, adopts rules, and changes the agreement after adoption… This global governance authority is open-ended… It covers everything from the movement of foreign nationals… to climate regulation… At bottom, this is not a mere trade agreement. It bears the hallmarks of a nascent European Union.
Sessions also said that the enormous length of the TPP— 5,554 pages— was “by definition, anti-democratic”:
No individual American has the resources to ensure his or her economic and political interests are safeguarded within this vast global regulatory structure. The predictable and surely desired result of the TPP is to put greater distance between the governed and those who govern. It puts those who make the rules out of reach of those who live under them, empowering unelected regulators who cannot be recalled or voted out of office. In turn, it diminishes the power of the people’s bulwark: their constitutionally-formed Congress.
In his statement, Sessions also observed, “because this deal lacks currency protections, it will further the bleeding of U.S. manufacturing jobs overseas, allowing our mercantilist trading partners to take advantage of our continued refusal to protect our own workers.” This has prompted the opposition of Ford Motors as well.
Thus, if Senator Rubio no longer believed that we “must… pass” TPP, or if he regretted casting the 60th vote to fast-track it, it would be easy for him—like Sessions—to put out a statement explaining his opposition to TPP. Rubio could easily say that he did not want to form a new international regulatory structure, or that he believed currency manipulation would hurt U.S. workers, or that he thought—like Sessions—that an agreement so long would undermine democracy. But Rubio has issued no such statement at all to retract any of his prior support.
Breitbart News reached out to Rubio’s office and asked if the Senator continues to stand by his April 29th and May 13th comments in which he expressed his support for TPP. Breitbart News asked if, in light of Sen. Sessions findings on TPP’s impact on U.S. sovereignty, Sen. Rubio was “prepared to reverse his longstanding support of TPP and oppose the deal.” In response, Rubio’s spokesman directed Breitbart News to an interview with CNBC’s John Hardwood, in which Rubio expressed his “very positive” feelings about Obamatrade in the days after Obama reached the agreement.
Rubio’s tactic here—once supporting a top donor class priority while working to mitigate conservative criticism long enough to achieve it—is not new.
When Rubio dropped the Gang of Eight immigration bill, he was just as effusive as he was in the early days about TPP. He declared it to be the “toughest border security and enforcement measures in U.S. history.” Yet when conservatives became enraged at the contents of the bill, Rubio did a conservative media tour to head off his critics by pledging to fix any issues with the legislation.
As National Review wrote at the time:
“It is painful to watch Marco Rubio’s maneuverings on immigration. He is refusing to say whether he will vote “yes” on his own Gang of Eight bill after spending months drafting, defending, and helping shepherd it to the floor. He has supposedly discovered that the enforcement provisions are inadequate, although he has done countless interviews touting that the bill contains the “toughest immigration-enforcement measures in the history of United States” (which is what his website still says). At the same time, Rubio declares the bill 95–96 percent perfect.”
Rubio’s delay tactics worked—the bill passed with 68 votes—an achievement which had eluded Ted Kennedy and John McCain in 2007.
ICE Union President Chris Crane has explained: “Senator Rubio left unchanged legislation that he himself admitted to us in private was detrimentally flawed and must be changed… Legislation written behind closed doors by handpicked special interest groups which put their political agendas and financial gains before sound and effective law and the welfare and safety of the American public.” On the day of the final vote, Rubio gave perhaps his most passionate speech yet in favor of the Obama-backed measure to hand out 33 million green cards.
A recent Politico report revealed that GOP leadership may delay the up-or-down vote on TPP until after the 2016 election during the lame duck session. Talk radio host Laura Ingraham has described this as “criminal” and is “clearly out of [the GOP establishment’s] desire to help Rubio and hurt Donald Trump.”
While Rubio has supported the unpopular trade pact, GOP frontrunner Donald Trump—by contrast—has declared war on Obamatrade, and has made his opposition to globalist trade pacts a signature issue of his presidential campaign. Sessions has demanded that the vote on TPP not be delayed and instead “be held when voters can hold their lawmakers accountable—not during an unaccountable lame duck session.”
If Rubio becomes President, he will inherit Obamatrade’s fast-track powers and similarly be able to pass any globalist trade pact without a filibuster, amendment, or treaty vote.