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United States Government Your Rights Online

TPP Fast Track Passes Key Vote In the Senate, Moves On To the House 98

onproton writes: The Senate voted yesterday to reauthorize the controversial Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which expedites, or 'Fast Tracks,' the passage of trade agreements through Congress. If also approved by the House, it will grant the authority to decide and negotiate the terms of agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to the executive branch, significantly limiting congressional involvement and leaving little room for debate. Proponents of the bill, namely the USTR, claim that Fast Tracking the TPP is critical to successfully negotiating its terms internationally, and will "ensure that Congress, stakeholders and the public are closely involved before, during and after the conclusion of trade agreement negotiations." Though in reality, it does not introduce significant changes in the transparency or reporting requirements that are currently in place, which have allowed the negotiations of this deal to be held in secret since 2009. With concerns being raised about the deal's impacts on everything from intellectual property rights to government sovereignty, it is surprising to many that Congress would abdicate their role in determining the specifics of agreements that may have far reaching implications for their constituents.
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TPP Fast Track Passes Key Vote In the Senate, Moves On To the House

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  • Ahem... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Njorthbiatr ( 3776975 ) on Saturday May 23, 2015 @08:35AM (#49758095)

    How much money will it cost to reach a compromise?

    I expect a prompt reply, I've got a golf game at three.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The republicans should be fighting against the TPP at every opportunity. But they won't because it will help their big business friends and donors. As long as they get rich, everyone else can go to hell.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 23, 2015 @09:01AM (#49758215)

      This tactic is now common up here in Canada as well, under Herr Harper's regime. Ram everything through when nobody's looking, bypass checks and balances, sneak it into a 600 page omnibus budget bill, basically do an end-run around all of the procedures we have that are designed to filter out corrupt, self-service shit that will harm the overall public because they KNOW it won't pass otherwise.

      It's absolutely disgusting. A total affront to the democratic process. People that pull this should be tried as traitors to their country.

      • It's absolutely disgusting. A total affront to the democratic process. People that pull this should be tried as traitors to their country.

        Capitalism has no country, kin nor master. It has only slaves, some pampered and some abused. It has redefined the perceived reality of the entire world in terms of profits and ownership. That has been enough to rule the last quarter millenia and triumph over the old order as well as attempts at rebellion. It is, as the term has been understood for most of human history,

      • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

        This tactic is now common up here in Canada as well, under Herr Harper's regime.

        Yeah of course you forget that under the Liberal party is was the method of the day. Not saying it's right, but pretending that it's 'common up here because of Harper' is just assine and shows a fundamental lack of understanding of exactly what political parties started it. Never forget that it was Trudeau's Liberals that collapsed the Parliament by waiting for everyone to go home for the weekend, then voting no confidence on a budget.

      • how do we fix it?

    • by Ferretman ( 224859 ) <[ferretman] [at] [gameai.com]> on Saturday May 23, 2015 @09:24AM (#49758301) Homepage
      That isn't quite right, and you're conviniently forgetting the many Democrat hypocrites so you can bash Republicans.

      Most of the Republicans who voted for this were swayed by the "free trade" aspects, viewing that as the most important thing. Generally speaking Republicans prefer open and free trade whereas Democrats prefer protectionism. Here Obama waves the free trade flag and they're duped into supporting him.

      I wish they'd step back and listen to their constituents a bit more here. The mere secrecy surrounding this thing should be enough to garner 100% rejection.

      Ferret
      • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Saturday May 23, 2015 @10:05AM (#49758527)

        I wish they'd step back and listen to their constituents a bit more here.

        They are listening. Most Republican senators represent rural, southern, and western states, that benefit from free trade. The losers are the rust belt states of the upper midwest, but those don't typically vote for Republicans.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Then again, this has nothing to do with actual free trade. There's that little detail...

          • Then again, this has nothing to do with actual free trade. There's that little detail...

            It will mean a much more open market for agricultural products. This will be a boon to American farmers, and also farmers in other big agricultural exporters (Australia, Thailand, etc.). It will also be a big benefit to consumers in countries with currently protected inefficient farms, like Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. But it will be ferociously resisted by Japanese farmers, which have disproportionate political power because of their screwed up voting system. They are very generously subsidized, and have

            • by dwywit ( 1109409 )

              Yeah, then there's all that BSE nonsense that we in Oz are mercifully free of. We don't want anyone else's beef, we have enough. Trade should NEVER override biosecurity concerns.

              A report on the ABC news (www.abc.net.au) yesterday tells of the carrot and stick approach taken by the US - "let us export our beef to you or you won't get access to our domestic sugar market".

              Our situation requires very careful consideration - we have a reputation for disease-free agricultural produce. Just about every country tha

              • Don't worry, our beef and other products are the best in the world, because we make them with less of those nasty job-killing, profi- err quality inhibiting, government regulations! ...what's that you say? No, no, that's not a maggot, that's additional protein infused beef!

                Rotten? No, of course it isn't, it's just finely aged to perfection!
      • Most of our Republican Reps and Senators are for TPP.

        Obama is going against the majority of Dem Reps and Senators in seeking Fast Track Authority for the TPP... http://www.commondreams.org/vi... [commondreams.org]

        So, MOST of the Rs are for it, and SOME of the Ds are for it, and in your mind, they're equally bad.

        Now, I absolutely agree with you that the mere secrecy surrounding this thing should be enough to reject it, but I have to say; You seem to have your opinions, and then you mold facts to them. Yes. I'm sure those

        • And if you want someone to tell you how Obama is a Bad Man, this liberal will gladly tell you all of the reasons. The only difference between us is that my reasons are REAL, and so many reasons spouted by "you people" (And I'm totally generalizing, and generally being an asshole here) are made up fantasy "invading Texas"/ RFID chips/Obama started warrantless wiretapping nonsense bullshit.
        • and the topic is changed. the topic is the Trans Pacific Partnership. Obama Supports it. All of you partisan asses are just as brainwashed. you see someone attacking Obama for any reason and they might as well be talking about secret muslim athiest birth certificate shit.

          There is a secret trade agreement, and Obama is supporting the secrecy. If you look at the Democrats supporting it, its going to be the most powerful ones that are running in 2016 for president and have the most sway and favor with party

    • And a significant portion of the population is now an ex-prisoner or ex-felon. "In 2008, about one in 33 working-age adults was an ex-prisoner, and about one in 15 working-age adults was an ex-felon. Among working-age men in that same year, about one in 17 was an ex-prisoner and one in eight was an ex-felon." http://www.cepr.net/press-cent [cepr.net]... [cepr.net]

      I would expect that, but that's not how it's going down. We should all boycott things like TPP, if we're not allowed to know what is in them, then chances

    • The republicans should be fighting against the TPP at every opportunity

      Wait, why? I thought Republicans generally favored trade. Why wouldn't they like this?

      The one I don't understand is Obama. He hasn't really explained why he thinks this is a good thing, just that we should trust him.

      • TPP has as much to do with trade as ACA had to do with healthcare. I doubt Obama really understands the deal well enough to explain it to others anyway.
    • your partisan bias is the reason we have shit like this. Both parties, have almost unanomious support except a handful out outliers.

      This is what happens when you vote party line instead of looking at the issues.

  • Orwell (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Livius ( 318358 ) on Saturday May 23, 2015 @08:41AM (#49758125)

    It's cute the way they say "ensure that Congress, stakeholders and the public are closely involved before, during and after the conclusion of trade agreement negotiations." when the whole point of 'fast-tracking' is to prevent involvement or even awareness until it's too late.

    Actual free trade (as opposed to "free" "trade" the slogan) is pretty much the simplest economic concept there is, so if the negotiations are complex, they're doing something else.

    • Re:Orwell (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Livius ( 318358 ) on Saturday May 23, 2015 @08:45AM (#49758143)

      And then there's the way the public are not considered stakeholders.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        And then there's the way the public are not considered stakeholders.

        Bingo! You nailed it. Its not uncommon for a list to be ordered from higher to lower priority. And with the word "stakeholder" (which has morphed into euphamism for the rich and powerful) appearing before the word "public" (the ordinary folks who'll lose big after TPP passes) we can immediately see which group is considered more important.

      • The public is considered chattel.

    • Yes - everyone who has done Economics 101 understands why free trade is a good thing. But given that the people who lose out shout far more loudly than the vast numbers who gain - which is inevitable - it is necessary to present the entire package with some way to ease the pain for the losers and restrain the abuses that can occur. Given this, the most likely way to get a package agreed and enacted is to do the negotiations in secret until a complete package that can be sold to the people emerges. The alter
      • by Livius ( 318358 )

        restrain the abuses that can occur

        That's the goal of a free trade agreement.

        A "free" "trade" agreement like this one has the opposite goal.

        • Given that we haven't actually got to see the text yet, that is speculation combined with gross pessimism about the state of most parts of the US government - the executive doing the negotiating and the legislature that will actually agree to it. Let's wait and see, shall we?
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Free trade with all things being equal between trading partners is likely a great thing. Free trade with a huge differential in wages, safety and environmental protections, not so much. In the real world opening up duty free trade between the U.S. and China has decimated our manufacturing. There is a reason that the incomes of workers in the U.S. have been flat for decades. More free trade will continue to level everything out nicely between the trading partners. That level will be much lower wages than

    • Paul Krugman leans negative about TPP [nytimes.com]. For this [nytimes.com] is not a trade agreement [vox.com]. It’s about intellectual property and dispute settlement; the big beneficiaries are likely to be pharma companies and firms that want to sue governments.
      In a direct sense, protecting intellectual property means creating a monopoly [princeton.edu] - letting the holders of a patent or copyright charge a price for something (the use of knowledge) that has a zero social marginal cost. In that direct sense this introduces a distortion that makes the

  • by fustakrakich ( 1673220 ) on Saturday May 23, 2015 @08:57AM (#49758195) Journal

    Why? Doesn't anybody understand who they work for? I, for one, fully expect this. In fact I would be surprised if they didn't do what they are doing. It is the voters who abdicated their responsibility to oversee their government. Democracy is high maintenance. It is not *set it and forget it* for two years.

    • by guruevi ( 827432 )

      The US is a representative republic, not a democracy. It is designed to set it and forget it for 4 year periods. You cannot vote your government out in between there. You do not vote for people or for laws directly like you would in eg. Iceland/Sweden, you vote for representatives that you think will most likely vote in the general direction of what you want.

  • Meh (Score:3, Informative)

    by c ( 8461 ) <beauregardcp@gmail.com> on Saturday May 23, 2015 @09:01AM (#49758207)

    Not sure it's all that big of a deal, really. The USA has a history of ignoring the inconvenient parts of trade deals or any rulings against them, anyway.

    • Re:Meh (Score:5, Informative)

      by gerddie ( 173963 ) on Saturday May 23, 2015 @09:31AM (#49758357)
      The idea of this type of trade agreement is to introduce rules that big business wants, but are currently difficult to push through in your country. If the trade agreement is ratified, the government will then say "We need to set these rules, because they are part of the trade agreement", and you are fucked. In other words, TPP will be used to diminish your rights. You might want to continue reading here [eff.org].
  • legality (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Versa ( 252878 ) on Saturday May 23, 2015 @09:01AM (#49758209)

    So how can 62 senators pass a bill that supersedes the constitution? The constitution specifically states 2/3 of present senators must agree with the president in order to pass a treaty (article 2 section 2). The fast track law says a simple majority can pass a treaty which would then have the same force of law as the constitution.

    This seems illegal.

    • Where did you see that the Senate gets to approve this treaty with a simple majority vote? All this seems to do is prevent the Senate from amending the treaty after it's negotiated - they can take it or leave it, but not fiddle with it....
      • Re:legality (Score:5, Informative)

        by NoNonAlphaCharsHere ( 2201864 ) on Saturday May 23, 2015 @09:37AM (#49758385)
        From page 10 of the referenced https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/RL33743.pdf [fas.org]:

        Expedited Legislative Procedures

        Should the above requirements be fulfilled to the satisfaction of Congress, it has agreed to follow certain expedited legislative procedures as defined in Sections 151-154 of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended. In effect, these rules require that Congress must act on the bill sent over by the White House, and in other ways represent a significant departure from ordinary legislative procedures. The major rules are listed below (see Appendix C for greater detail):

        (1) mandatory introduction of the implementing bill in both houses of Congress and immediate referral to the appropriate committees (House Ways and Means, Senate Finance, and others);

        (2) automatic discharge from House and Senate Committees after a limited period of time;

        (3) limited floor debate; and

        (4) no amendment, meaning that each house must vote either up or down on the bill, which passes with a simple majority.

      • Thats right. This isn't a vote to approve the treaty but to allow the administration to present one that will not be altered by congress for an up or down vote which has to meet constitutional muster.

        This concept is supposed to allow time to be saved on making treaties to address issues that are time sensitive. Unfortunately it also requires trust in government to be working in the best interest of the country and that trust simply is not present today and hasn't been for a while.

        The parent to your post is

        • by Anonymous Coward

          However, the Constitution also places treaties above laws passed by Congress. In other words, they can't override the Constitution to take away rights (we seem to have the conservative Supreme Court to do that these days...) but they could put things in this treaty that prevent the US from doing things that we want to do--like regulate pollutants, stop unsafe products from being sold, etc. You know, the things multinational companies do on a daily basis.

          • Sort of.

            A treaty would place restrictions on congress but congress could also just void/invalidate the treaty and act in any manner they wanted. A treaty cannot stop congress from removing these restrictions. It's just a matter of priorities and whether we want to withdraw and lose any benefits the treaty might have.

        • "Unfortunately it also requires trust in government to be working in the best interest of the country and that trust simply is not present today and hasn't been for a while."

          You're missing the point. The trust is demonstrated when the proposed treaty is offered and passed or rejected. There's no need for negotiations to occur in public, but they don't actually commit anyone to anything. The belief that it is possible to negotiate anything in a blaze of publicity is one of the strangest pieces of fundamen
          • No, the trust is still in question as there are many "must not" have principles often buried inside of must have legislation. We cannot trust any administration in this day and age to not do this for ideological, personal benefit, or other reasons. It (the trust) simply is not there.

            Now as for the detailed in public negotiations, I agree it cannot be negotiated efficiently that way. But the underlying principles should be publicly available and details about questionable or even unfavorable terms and items

            • If the lobbyists KNOW that the area where their employers are concerned with is currently under discussion, then they will harass the negotiations while this is the case. If it's all hidden, then they will be spraying their efforts less effectively, with the result that the general interest - which is what the lobbyists are campaigning against - is slightly more likely to be heard.

              This is merely a particular example of the wider problem of such lobbying. If the general interest of the buying public is be
    • >Reid v. Covert, 354 U.S. 1 (1957), was a landmark United States Supreme Court case in which the Court ruled that the Constitution supersedes international treaties ratified by the United States Senate.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R... [wikipedia.org]
  • Poison Pill (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    It apparently has a poison pill:

    http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2015/05/good-news-on-tpp-as-senate-passes-fast-track-bill-with-human-trafficking-poison-pill.html

    • Oh, I love it!

      The only way to stop a run-away disaster?

      Not "Make sure passing it is an even bigger disaster".

      But "Make passing it impossible unless you vote for an enemy ad campaign that gets you removed from office".

      Quick summary if you did not read that link: The bill passed by the senate includes an anti-human-trafficking provision. And it would prohibit one of the TPP partners -- basically, the senate only approves TPP if this anti-trafficking goes into effect as well.

      So, to pass in the house? You have

  • Convenient (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fostware ( 551290 ) on Saturday May 23, 2015 @09:28AM (#49758331) Homepage

    it is surprising to many that Congress would abdicate their role in determining the specifics of agreements that may have far reaching implications for their constituents.

    Not really. It's now "not their fault" next election time...

  • by atfrase ( 879806 ) on Saturday May 23, 2015 @09:29AM (#49758345)

    it is surprising to many that Congress would abdicate their role in determining the specifics of agreements that may have far reaching implications for their constituents

    Really? It seems fairly straightforward that many in Congress would love for Obama to finalize this deal in secret, knowing that it will be great for their business constituents and, when the details are finally made public, fairly unpopular with the public. Then they get to have the policy they really want, and still blame Obama for all the parts people don't like, without having to take any responsibility themselves.

    Of course they'd want to abdicate their role.

  • I applaud Congress recognizing that their position and duties are outdated and no longer necessary. This vote passage is an important first step in dissolving Congress and having Corporations rule the World through Treaties that trump all Constitutions of the signatories. It only makes sense that we continue efforts to restrict our Government to 2 Branches -- the Executive which will sign these treaties and wage wars upon citizens at home and abroad and the Judicial to oversee the criminal convictions of Ci
  • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere ( 2201864 ) on Saturday May 23, 2015 @09:47AM (#49758435)
    You're gonna LOVE Obamatrade:

    "If you like your job, you can keep it".
  • Trade bills kill jobs and we don't have Universal health care to take up the slack but that makes the tougher copyright penalties can be a good thing as the jail / prison can become your doctor and you get the right to trial by jury.

  • "With concerns being raised about the deal's impacts on everything from intellectual property rights to government sovereignty, it is surprising to many that Congress would abdicate their role in determining the specifics of agreements that may have far reaching implications for their constituents."

    Why is it surprising? Gives them less work to do! They're all pro-business, which is the reason they're in office. Whether or not they agree with tighter gun laws, or minimum wage, or black/gay rights, or aborti

  • and start over.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The secrecy of TPP negotiations is mainly to keep special interests in other countries from freaking out, not those in the US. Obama's CEA Chair Jason Furman writes "The starting point of TPP is the contrast between U.S. tariffs and those of our partner countries. Our trade-weighted average applied tariff rate is 1.4 percent and 70 percent of imports already enter our economy duty free. In contrast, on average, our TPP partners report simple average applied tariffs 1.5 percentage points higher than our equ

  • "...it is surprising to many that Congress would abdicate their role in determining the specifics of agreements that may have far reaching implications for their constituents."

    No, it's only surprising to those who cling to a childishly naive belief that Congress actually serves a constituency of voters, rather than face the reality that it serves the interests of corporate oligarchs first and foremost.

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