Tuesday at a a hearing on U.S. trade policy and the fast-track trade authority bill, long-time ally of President Barack Obama, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka testified that the fast track process is “unaccountable and un-democratic,” especially in light of the administration “willfully ignoring” Congress in the negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) over the last five years.
Trumka said, “Key to reforming our trade policies, we believe is abolishing the outdated, unaccountable and un-democratic fast track process. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, now being negotiated by our government, includes 12 countries and about 40 percent of the world’s GDP, and the TPP is designed to be infinitely expandable. So it could be the last trade agreement we negotiate, so it’s especially crucial that we get the terms of this one right. And Mr. Chairman, the idea that fast track lets Congress set the terms and standards and goals for TPP—I’m not talking about other agreements, but for TPP—is an absolute fiction. The agreement has been under negotiation for more than five years and is essentially complete. So the instructions that you send them will have no affect whatsoever. Congress cannot set meaningful negotiating objectives if the administration’s already negotiated most of the key provisions.”
He continued, “The administration has ignored Congress’ direct instructions to negotiate meaningful currency provisions and to reform the flawed investor state dispute settlement process. Granting fast track now takes Congress out of the picture until the agreement is complete.”
“There have been no consequences when the administration willfully ignores or fails to achieve any or all of those objectives,” he added.
He urged Congress to “Ensure that Congress, not the executive branch, determines whether the congressional trade objectives have been met. Ensure Congress has effective opportunities to strip expedited consideration provisions from trade deals that fail to meet congressional objectives or to incorporate congressional and public participation.”
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