Obama Puts Congress On Notice: TPP Is Coming

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Above photo: By Ellen Davidson

NOTE: The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a very high priority for President Obama. He has been saying for a long time that he wants it completed this year. If the TPP is ratified, it will set our work for economic, racial and environmental justice and peace back decades. It is critical that we prevent Congress from ratifying the TPP. Please sign up for the No Lame Duck Uprising and join the resistance. There is something that each person can do. CLICK HERE FOR THE NO LAME DUCK UPRISING.

Washington, DC – The White House put Congress on notice Friday morning that it will be sending lawmakers a bill to implement President Barack Obama’s landmark Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement — a move intended to infuse new energy into efforts to ratify the flat-lining trade pact.

The move establishes a 30-day minimum before the administration can present the legislation, but the White House is unlikely to do so amid the heated rhetoric of a presidential campaign in which both major party nominees have depicted free trade deals as massive job killers.

Friday’s notification is the clearest signal yet that the White House is serious about getting Obama’s legacy trade deal — the biggest in U.S. history — passed by the end of the year, as he has vowed to do despite the misgivings of Republican leaders and the outright opposition of a majority of Democrats in Congress.

Striking a defiant tone, Obama predicted at a press conference last week that the economic centerpiece of his strategic pivot to Asia would pass in the lame-duck session, saying he’d like to sit down with lawmakers after the election to discuss the “actual facts” behind the deal, rather than toss it around like a “political football.”

“We are part of a global economy. We’re not reversing that,” Obama said, describing the necessity of international supply chains and the importance of the export sector to U.S. jobs and the economy. “The notion that we’re going to pull that up root and branch is unrealistic.”

The notification, a new requirement of the trade promotion authority legislation Congress passed last year to expedite passage of the Asia-Pacific pact, is “meant to ensure early consultations between the administration and Congress,” Matt McAlvanah, a spokesman for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, said in a statement. “As such, the draft SAA [Statement of Administrative Action] was sent today in order to continue to promote transparency and collaboration in the TPP process.”

The White House’s draft document describes the major steps the administration will take to implement any changes to U.S. law required by the deal. Those actions range from the mundane — designating an administration point of contact for communications about the pact — to the complex — setting up procedures to stop harmful surges of agricultural or textile imports.

But the deal is going nowhere until the White House addresses a number of concerns lawmakers have raised about the trade agreement, which Canada, Mexico, Japan and eight other countries joined the United States in signing last February.

First and foremost: satisfying the concerns of Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and other lawmakers about protections for a new class of drugs known as biologics. They say the pact provides too short a monopoly period for rights to research and development data. Other lawmakers have complained the deal would bar tobacco companies from seeking redress through investor-state dispute arbitrage for damages resulting from country regulations. Still others are seeking assurances that member countries will abide to their commitments to provide access for U.S. pork and dairy exports.

Until these issues are resolved, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have made clear that the pact will not get the votes it needs to pass.

Ryan’s spokeswoman, AshLee Strong, reiterated the point on Friday.

“As Speaker Ryan has stated for months, there are problems that remain with the administration’s TPP deal, and there can be no movement before these concerns are addressed,” she said.

Democrats, meanwhile, have largely called the deal a nonstarter over concerns about the enforceability of labor and environmental standards in countries like Vietnam and the lack of strong protections against currency manipulation.

The administration claims it is making progress on these issues and has resolved others, including banking industry concerns over the exclusion of financial data from rules prohibiting countries from requiring local storage.

But that doesn’t change the reality of the down-ballot drag that candidates are facing as they campaign back home in their districts. In a reversal from years past, many Republicans are on the defensive about their support for free trade because of Donald Trump’s daily tirades about what he characterizes as the serious economic damage wrought by trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement and the TPP as well as his complaints that China is flouting international trade rules.

The Republican platform picked up on this theme, saying significant trade deals “should not be rushed or undertaken in a Lame Duck Congress.”

The small band of Democrats who the administration hopes will support the TPP are facing increased pressure within their own party to abandon the president on the agreement. Sens. Bernie Sanders’ and Elizabeth Warren’s strong condemnations of the trade deal have forced Hillary Clinton, who supported the TPP as Obama’s secretary of state, to reject the pact to appease the liberal wing.

“I will stop any trade deal that kills jobs or holds down wages, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” Clinton said during an economic policy speech at an automotive manufacturing plant in Warren, Mich., on Thursday. “I oppose it now, I’ll oppose it after the election and I’ll oppose it as president.”

Clinton’s clear rejection of the trade deal has emboldened liberal groups like the Warren-aligned Progressive Change Campaign Committee to launch a campaign to press Democrats to publicly oppose a TPP vote in the lame duck.

Sanders also called on Democratic congressional leaders to go on record against the White House’s effort to get the deal done by the end of the year, saying the agreement is opposed by every trade union and the grassroots base of the Democratic Party.

“I am disappointed by the president’s decision to continue pushing forward on the disastrous Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement that will cost American jobs, harm the environment, increase the cost of prescription drugs and threaten our ability to protect public health,” the Vermont senator said in a statement after learning of the White House’s action on Friday.

Meanwhile, the administration continues to press the deal in key congressional districts — especially those of Democrats who supported the trade promotion authority bill last year.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell returned to her hometown of Seattle last month to tout the TPP’s potential effects on the environment at a Washington Council on International Trade event with more than 150 business leaders.

Then, last week, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker hit the San Diego and Boulder districts of Reps. Susan Davis and Jared Polis — two of the 28 House Democrats that voted for the bill — and visited a steel plant in Cleveland to promote the TPP. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew did the same when he met with local and state officials and Fortune 500 business executives in Minneapolis.

On Thursday, Undersecretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere Kathryn Sullivan spoke at a Seattle clean energy business roundtable focused on the TPP and the environment. And this Monday, Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Robert Holleyman will participate in a World Affairs Council of Atlanta discussion on the trade deal featuring former Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss and UPS CEO David Abney.

As the political fight plays out, the nuts-and-bolts process of moving the deal forward will continue. Once Congress reviews the draft notification that the White House submitted on Friday, the administration can move forward with sending lawmakers a final statement and the draft of the implementing bill itself. The legislation will describe the actual changes to U.S. law to comply with the rules of the trade agreement.

After that, the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees could hold “mock markups” of the bill (because under trade promotion authority, Congress is not actually allowed to tinker with the agreement or its implementing legislation itself, but it can ask the administration to do so).

But given the tenor of the elections, the entire process could be pushed into a crowded lame-duck legislation session, which would mean no time for the mock markups. Instead, there could be a lot of deal-making between the White House and congressional leadership to move the bill before Clinton or Trump takes over on Jan. 20.

Obama said last week that he’s ready to press his case. “Right now, I’m president, and I’m for it. And I think I’ve got the better argument,” he said.

 

Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2016/08/obama-congress-trade-warning-226952#ixzz4HKaJytIK
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  • Steve1027
  • DHFabian

    Finally. It’s a big step forward for liberal media to acknowledge Hillary Clinton’s role at all, but let’s fill in the blanks. Obama didn’t push the TPP, and in fact, publicly stated his reluctance from the start. In contrast, before launching her campaign Hillary Clinton was working hard on trying to get the the TPP through Congress. This wasn’t done secret, was routinely reported in the news, and we weren’t surprised since her husband had stuck us with NAFTA. According to CNN, H. Clinton had actually made 45 efforts on behalf of the TPP. Just Google “Hillary Clinton and the TPP,” refer to reputable news sites.

    Now that it’s essentially a done deal, Clinton claims that she has now decided to “to reject the pact to appease the liberal wing.” Just how gullible, how ignorant, does she think the people are?

  • il corvo

    Obama said last week that he’s ready to press his case. “Right now, I’m
    president, and I’m for it. And I think I’ve got the better argument,” he
    said.

    A better argument than most of the citizens he represents? Where is the public debate Mr. Obama? There are hundreds of thousands that have signed petitions against the TPP, how many petitions and demonstrations have you seen for the TPP? All it takes is a handful of super rich corporations against the will of the people and you know what way a self centered politician like Obama is going to turn.

  • mwildfire

    It was hard to bite back a scream when I came to the part about how Republicans are opposing it…because it doesn’t give a long ENOUGH monopoly to drug companies or allow tobacco companies along with every other kind of corporation to stomp over legislative bodies trying to protect people from cancer. But, Kevin–what does it mean that Obama has sent this in? Anything? Maybe he just wants to get this step out of the way now so it will be long forgotten during the lame duck, so the team can suddenly throw it out and press for votes quickquickquick on a holiday weekend? Si it’s a done deal before the public knows it’s up? They can’t get away with a voice vote on this, can they?

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  • Leslie Rojohn

    Why people think this guy has ever been on our side, is a mystery to me. He is a corporate hack. Think about what he has done. He placed ex Monsanto lawyer Michael Taylor as deputy commissioner of our FDA. He was for the chained CPI. He shut out all stakeholders that were for single payer during the lead up to Obama Care. He upgraded Malasia off the bad guy list for it’s human trafficking behavior so it could participate in the TPP. He just ignored 90% of Americans who want GMO labeling and signed the bill that essentially did away with it and nullified Vermont’s and other states rights to insist on it.
    Add all that to the fact that he has used his “kill list” to do more drone attacks than Bush/Cheney ever dreamed of doing; said let the past be in the past when it came to prosecuting Dubya’s group for war crimes, has prosecuted more government whistle blowers than any other Pres. in history and on and on and on.
    I voted for this SOB and I want to puke every time I see his face. And Hillary will be Obama 2.0 or worse. We are screwed.

  • Steven Berge

    Too bad we don’t have a real Attorney General. If we did, he would tell the sold out politicians pushing these agreements that it’s treason to give away the sovereignty of the country. I’m so enraged that all branches of the government have been sold out.

  • rgaura

    When they talk about `biologics´, know that vaccines are designated as biologics and thus exempt from rigorous testing before release on the market.

  • TecumsehUnfaced

    First order of business before all others in the Lame Duck session: Articles of Impeachment for the Traitor Obama.

    If Brazil can do it, so can we to make sure that Obama goes out with the shame he deserves.

  • kevinzeese

    You are wrong about Obama not pushing the TPP. He has had this as a top priority since the early years of his administration and now he is making it his top legislative priority before he leaves office. He worked very hard to get fast track trade authority to make it possible to pass the TPP and two other major trade agreements, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with Europe; and the largest of them all , the Trade in Services Agreement with 50 countries (services are 80% of the US economy). You are right about Clinton being very supportive of the TPP, calling it the gold standard, until she ran for the presidency and was forced by public opinion to change direction. I suspect her stronger anti-TPP statements are because she knows that Obama will do everything he can to have it ratified before she becomes president. Our job is to stop him see http://www.FlushTheTPP/nolameduck

  • William Johnson

    That about sums it up. All I can think to add about Obama is that, during his first campaign, the moment he broke his promise to only take money from average citizens and instead changed his mind and took all kinds of wall street Bankers money, people should have known right then he was selling his soul. Surely Clinton will be worse, although that’s hard to imagine, but so too was Obama being worse than Bush/Cheney.
    Now if only democrats would fully realize that both parties are completely corrupt and write in Jill Stein, if she isn’t on the ballot in their state, instead of crying about Trump possibly winning, using that fear as a rationale for voting for Clinton, we just might be able to change what needs changing. After all, a vote for either Trump or Clinton is akin to having an opportunity to vote for candidate other than Hitler, say in 1936 Germany and not doing so.We don’t need the world’s largest military, nor do we need or desire transnationals and banksters in charge of everything. If as Mussolini said, Fascism is the merger of state and corporate power, then we already have that, only worse, since people have been voting to keep it.

  • William Johnson

    In fact, Obama could sign the TPP as it stands right now and then submit it to congress, where it can only receive and up and down vote, without amendments allowed or the use of the filibuster. This is due to passing of Fast Track Trade Authority transnationals spent around $200 million in the senate ensuring it would pass.
    However, after meeting with Rep. Morgan Griffith a couple of weeks ago, he told me the Speaker is disinclined to bring the TPP to a vote in the house, mainly because Obama wants it. I don’t know if he was being truthful, but had the impression he was and also that, he was going to take a much closer look at this deal and was leaning towards a nay vote. I spent 30 minutes going over every detail I knew about the TPP, much of which appeared to shock Griffith. Like many congress members new to the house, about all they hear is what lobbyists are selling them, not how things really happen to be.
    If you have seen the new video on Youtube by searching TPP Explained, I don’t know about today, but when I did this again, I didn’t get the one done by Wikileaks, but another that almost had me believing the TPP would be a good idea. Some real slick propaganda was what I was thinking. Luckily, I knew better, but if that’s what congress members are seeing, we have a whole lot more work to do than we thought.

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