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Dirty Fast Track Authority Politics

Written by Subject: Free Trade

Dirty Fast Track Authority Politics

by Stephen Lendman

On June 12, House members rejected fast track Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) by a convoluted process explained in a previous article.

It involves combining TPA with Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) authorizing funding programs for workers displaced by jobs-killing imports. Voting down one measure defeats them both - at least that's how it's supposed to work.

House members overwhelmingly defeated TAA by a 176 vote margin rendering their separate earlier approval of TPA meaningless. Obama and corporate lobbyists don't quit easily.

On June 18, House members narrowly approved TPA separately in a second vote. Global Trade Watch director Lori Wallach explained a "procedural gimmick to punt Fast Track…back to the Senate."

It's fate remains unclear so far. Senate Democrats demand TAA be combined with TPA before a second vote. 

At the same time, key Senate Democrats insist Majority Leader Mitch McConnell allow an Export-Import Bank reauthorization vote. It was a condition for supporting cloture on fast track earlier. House Republicans strongly oppose TAA and Ex-Im reauthorization.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said there's no clear path for TAA enactment so far. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Obama wants TPA and TAA passed so he can sign both measures.

Wallach remains hopeful saying despite "two years of effort by a vast corporate coalition, the White House and GOP leaders - and weeks of procedural gimmicks and deals swapped for yes votes - (a) continuing standoff and no Fast Track spotlights the dim prospects not only for (adopting TPA) but also for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)."

The battle for consumer rights continues. "America needs a new process for negotiating and approving agreements if we are to achieve deals that create American jobs and raise our wages," said Wallach - instead of destroying them and reducing wages and benefits as part of a longstanding destructive race to the bottom.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) commented on Fast
Track "machinations" and how hard it is following what's going on. Even Washington insiders can't predict what's next, it said.

Given Obama's history of dissembling, who knows if he'll stick to his pledge of demanding both TPA and TAA congressional passage before he'll sign either one.

If enough Senate Democrats break from their demand for TAA passage and agree to vote separately for TPA, the battle for Fast Track and what's left of worker rights will be lost. So far, it's unclear how things will go.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

Visit his blog site at 

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