Washington, DC — As President Obama prepares to leave for Asia in another attempt to finalize the stalled Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations, a broad coalition of labor, environmental and consumer groups delivered over half a million petition signatures and letters to key Congressional leaders today opposing Fast Track authority for the pact.
“CWA activists are focusing all our efforts on stopping Fast Track authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Millions of labor, environmental, community and human rights activists are fighting back and demanding that the White House and Congress put U.S. citizens ahead of the corporate and financial interests that already define and dominate the global economy,” said Communications Workers of America president Larry Cohen.
“Fast Track is as dead in the water post-election as it was before it,” said Arthur Stamoulis, executive director of Citizens Trade Campaign. “After all the secrecy and back-room dealmaking surrounding the TPP negotiations, there’s no way the public, civil society or responsible policymakers will allow the pact to be rushed through Congress.”
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President Obama is heading to Asia this weekend for a week of summits and meetings aimed, in part, at bringing the TPP to conclusion. The TPP is a twelve-nation pact that would set rules affecting approximately 40% of the global economy, covering not only tariffs and quotas, but everything from financial regulations and public procurement to medicine patents and environmental policy. While various leaked texts from the TPP negotiations have been published by Citizens Trade Campaign and WikiLeaks, none of the U.S. proposals or composite texts has every been officially released for review by the public.
The White House and various corporate lobby groups are calling for to TPP be approved under “Fast Track” trade promotion authority, an expired, Nixon-era policy-making process that would allow the pact to circumvent ordinary Congressional review, amendment and debate procedures.
A total of 663,674 letters, email actions and petition signatures opposing Fast Track were delivered to House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden today, from 350.org, AFL-CIO, Citizens Trade Campaign, Communications Workers of America, Corporate Accountability International, CREDO, Democracy for America, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Fight for the Future, Firedoglake, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, MoveOn.org, Organic Consumers Association, Public Citizen, Sierra Club, SumOfUs.org and others.
“We’re calling on Congress members to affirm their opposition to Fast Track now and into the future,” said Mike Dolan, Teamsters’ legislative representative and CTC vice president. “The Fast Track legislation introduced back in January didn’t go anywhere this year, and won’t go anywhere during Lame Duck or the new session, because policymakers and the public alike rightly view it as an abdication of Congress’ authority and responsibility when it comes to shaping trade policy for the benefit of working families. This isn’t something minor ‘tweaks’ are able to fix.”
Following previously missing deadlines to finish the TPP negotiations in 2012 and 2013, in June 2014 President Obama again issued a statement saying he hoped to conclude negotiations by this trip. During a visit by New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, he said, “Our hope is, is that by the time we see each other again in November when I travel to Asia, that we should have something that we have consulted with Congress and that the public can take a look at.” Last week, however, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman indicated that this was unlikely, stating bluntly that, “We do not expect to have a final agreement on TPP at APEC.”
“When you fail to meet your self-imposed deadline one year, and then a second year, and then a third year, maybe it’s time to open up your process and reassess,” said Ilana Solomon, director of the Sierra Club’s Responsible Trade Program. “A pact that stands to threaten the economy, environment and public health is one that deserves exposure to some sunlight.”
Many of the groups involved in today’s petition and letter deliveries are also launching a #StopFastTrack Week of Action on Saturday to generate additional calls, emails and rallies urging Congress to oppose Fast Track for the TPP. Details about the Week of Action can be found online at StopFastTrack.com.