TPP’s Threat to Buy American Act Adds More Congressional Opposition

A recent review of just two letters sent by members of the House of Representatives to President Obama about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) found an overwhelming number oppose giving away Congress’ role in debating the still-unresolved massive 12 country trade deal that would encompass 40 percent of global GDP. A clear majority, 266 members, signed letters stating their concerns over the status of the agriculture market access or their opposition of outdated “fast track” procedures that usurp Congress’s authority over trade matters.

Now a review of two similar letters on proposed ‘national treatment’ requirements in the TPP, which would gut the Buy American Act of 1933 and other similar legislation, finds that the number of Representatives opposing finalizing the TPP without Congressional input now stands at 283.

‘National treatment’ provisions declare that if a country, state or local government provides certain rights and privileges to its own citizens or corporations it also must provide equivalent rights and privileges to foreigners or foreign companies. In reality this means that the TPP would allow foreign companies, included state-owned companies, to receive the same incentives used to build and maintain manufacturing, research and development companies and jobs in the US

The July 30 letter from Rep. Donna Edwards, signed by 121 members and the July 31 Rep. David Joyce letter, attached, signed by 14 members, underscores the bipartisan support that Buy American policies have enjoyed for more than eight decades.

Both letters remind the President that the 2015 Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill, which actually funds the Office of the US Trade Representative, clearly forbids funding to be used “to negotiate trade agreements terms that would requires a waiver of Buy American policy.” The TPP would clearly be one of those agreements.

“The numbers to pass fast track trade promotion authority so that TPP can be rammed through Congress are simply not there,” said Shane Larson, Legislative Director for the Communications Workers of America. “Whatever numbers that USTR Michael Froman’s office and the White House claim to have that would put them over the majority needed seem to come out of thin air.”

“What is clear is that the more that Americans are learning about the TPP the more that they are against it,” said Mike Dolan, Legislative Representative for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. “And after hearing from their constituents over the August recess I fully expect that there will be more members who return to D.C. ready to vote no on fast track and no on TPP than there were when they left.”