Newsletter: The Moment Has Arrived, Now Is The Time

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This week’s newsletter will be brief because many members of the Popular Resistance team are in Massachusetts for the Northeast Climate Organizers Summit and we are heavily engaged in the work to stop fast track for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Resistance to Fast Track

Mackenzie McDonald-Wilkins protests fast track while Senate Finance Committee considers fast track on April 22, 2015. Photo by John Zangas of DC Media Group.

Mackenzie McDonald-Wilkins, trade organizer for Popular Resistance, protests fast track while Senate Finance Committee considers fast track on April 22, 2015. Photo by John Zangas of DC Media Group.

After a more than three year campaign, the moment has arrived, now is the time. We are at the key battleground that will determine whether the TPP and other corporate trade agreements will become law. Fast track trade authority, as expected, passed the two committees of jurisdiction in the House and Senate. The next step is where we have always expected we could stop them, the full US House of Representatives.

On Wednesday, the Senate Finance Committee passed an amended version of fast track. This was expected because the Finance Committee is one of the most corrupt committees in Congress taking more than $100 million from big business each election cycle. While the committee rejected amendments to protect ‘Buy American’ laws, one of the amendments that did pass was designed to restrict the BDS movement targeting Israel. The victory for us in the Senate was that the committee wanted to pass fast track in February, but was delayed for two months by our collective actions.

The next day, fast track was debated and voted upon in the House Ways and Means Committee. There was a lively debate in that committee lasting for ten hours during which questions were raised about the legality of the President negotiating an international agreement such as the TPP without prior approval and provision of negotiating objectives in advance from Congress. The Republican Chair, Rep. Paul Ryan refused to allow a vote on an alternative approach to trade authority put forward by the ranking Democrat, Sander Levin.

As you can see from this comprehensive review, resistance to fast track and rigged corporate trade is growing rapidly. Representative Levin, the ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee, declared his intention to defeat fast track.

Fast  track protest at US Capitol, April 16, 2015. Photo by Eleanor Goldfield, Art Killing Apathy.

Fast track protest at US Capitol, April 16, 2015. Photo by Eleanor Goldfield, Art Killing Apathy.

Last weekend there were hundreds of actions around the world. Cities are rising up against fast track too by passing resolutions against it. San Francisco just passed one and New York is voting next week. You will find tools to pass a resolution in your community if you click here.

The next phase of defeating fast track requires ideally preventing the fast track bill from reaching the Floor of the House for a vote or defeating it on the Floor if it does go there. At this moment, we believe that there are not enough votes in the House to pass it, but that can change as the administration and lobbyists tighten the screws on our Representatives.  Sen. Sherrod Brown reports he has never seen more intensive lobbying by the Obama administration on any other issue throughout his presidency.

We must maintain our pressure on them to vote “No” on fast track. We urge you to continue to call your member frequently. You can use to do that.

And we urge you to organize actions in your local district during the next recess from May 2 to 11. This is a critical recess, if our support grows during the recess, it is unlikely they will be able to achieve majority support.  Join the next weekly National Fast Track Resistance call on Wednesday, April 29 at 9 pm EDT/6 pm Pacific for more information on how to do that. Click here for information about the calls. We are in the home stretch of this fight for now, so please give it everything you have! Take the action pledge here.

 Highlights from the week:

1ecuawbThe World Bank met in Washington, DC this week. We were there for a powerful march and rally organized by the people of Ecuador to protest Chevron. Alnoor Ladha of The Rules explains in this interview how the World Bank has displaced nearly 3.4 million people from their land.

The FCC moved this week to stop the Comcast Time Warner merger. This is another difficult but important victory for truly preserving a free and open Internet that was won through people power. We need to break up the big Internet corporations, encourage competition, municipal ownership and provide high speed Internet to all, including rural and poor communities.

Earth Day was an opportunity for all sorts of actions around the climate crisis. Demonstrators disrupted a city council meeting in Portland, OR and a large rally was held outside the CT governor’s energy summit. Activists were arrested at the Pentagon where they connected the military and climate change. The Flotilla to stop Shell in Seattle is growing. And on a sad note, one of the brave activists from the SEED Coalition, which is allied with  We Are Cove Point, went to jail this week to serve a 40 day sentence. She and her partner revealed their mistreatment by the police during the arrest.

Freddie Gray Justice for FreddiePolice violence against communities of color with impunity continues. In Chicago, Rekia Boyd’s killer was found “not guilty” and Rekia’s brother was arrested for being upset at the outcome. In Baltimore, Freddie Gray died a week after his brutal arrest and the community is responding with daily protests to demand accountability. Protests this week resulted in the family of Tania Harris, a teen shot by police outside Minneapolis, being able to see her in the hospital. The Michael Brown family filed a wrongful death suit.

The Million Moms March is coming up in Washington, DC on May 9. Mothers of victims of police violence are coming to DC to demand justice. We interviewed Maria Hamilton on Clearing the FOG. We hope that you will support them.

Each of our struggles are connected. We can see that most evidently in the campaign against fast track for corporate trade, because these rigged agreements affect every aspect of our lives and every issue where we are concerned. Stopping fast track is a great opportunity for the movement for social, economic and environmental justice to unite and build its power against transnational corporations.

One of the primary tactics of those who oppose our justice agenda is to divide us, one of our jobs is to unite across issues, support each other and work together to build our power to create the kind of world we want to see. We need to be conscious in our work to strive for broad solidarity and create a movement of movements that through synergy builds people power.

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