Sen. Jeff Sessions Calls out House Leadership on Retribution Tactics

REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) joined the Laura Ingraham Show to express disapproval of Republican leadership for passing Obamatrade.

Sessions called out House leadership for punishing conservatives who voted against the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) last week. TPA gives President Obama fast-track trade authority to finalize his trade deals without any Congressional amendments — simply an up or down vote on the final legislation.

Ingraham asked, “What went down in these final days before the vote to end debate on the Trade Promotion Authority?”

Sessions said that the Senate barely met the threshold 60 votes to pass the legislation, and said they muscled it through at the last minute:

This not only allows the Pacific agreement to go forward but now leaked secret, or that had been secret, services agreement resulted in Senator Cruz changing his outlook on the matter. And then there is going to be an Atlantic agreement moved through under the fast track, which is in place for six years. In addition to that, other treaties can be advanced without the normal congressional processes of review of the amendment and filibuster…I believe the mindset in the Republican establishment now is anything that says trade bill, we don’t even have to read it, there is no such thing as a bad trade agreement. We always win when we have more trade, we always win when Americans can purchase the lowest possible price, even if it is from a foreign country that subsidizes or manipulates its currency or does other trade maneuvers to advantage their economy.

He said that the American people are correct when they say Republicans aren’t looking out for them.

[People] “did not like this agreement, they thought it would not advance their economic interest, and I believe they are correct. They would not answer my questions repeatedly addressed: Will it increase or decrease the trade deficit with these countries? No doubt it will increase the deficit just as the Korean treaty doubled the deficit with Korea,” Sessions said.

Ingraham said this agreement isn’t about trade, but rather it’s more about a global governance.

“I mean, it’s about setting up a whole new regime that, we still don’t know exactly it’s going to look like, to enforce, supposedly enforce, these new norms. And, if it means that U.S. law and U.S. needs have to be subverted to live up to that new global set of rules, then so be it.” She questioned if that was Sessions position.

He said he didn’t totally agree.

We have, as you noted, virtually free trade agreements with most of the countries: Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand…I think maybe President Obama, demanded these international organizations, this Pacific Union of 12 different countries that can be expanded by new members any time they desire. I think that may have been what he wanted out of it, and we went along with that. But, the only real trade agreement here that would have an impact, probably, is Japan, and we have open trade, of course, with Japan, but there are some changes that could be made. And, Vietnam, 100 million people. So, those are the two that could have been negotiated individually without this global agreement.

Sessions said he didn’t buy Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) argument that TPA is not a pre-clearance of all the trade agreements:

Congressman Ryan is a wonderful and smart leader, but he definitely is at the forefront of these trade agreements and advocating for it. Number one, it’s his committee that would have that initial look. But if they bring up a new trade agreement, fast-track through this disagreement that’s passed, then we don’t have a filibuster right in the Senate, you can’t amend it in any way, and you get an up or down vote in 20 hours. So, this accelerates any future agreements and Congress is not going to be able to pass legislation to change it because the President can veto it. And, finally, if this constricted the President’s power, as so many a number of people have been saying, why is he for it?