Members of Congress exercise their muscle on TPP
During the latest round of talks of the Trans-Pacific Partnerships (TPP) "free trade" agreement in Dallas, U.S. trade officials increased the use of heavy-handed tactics at the negotiating table, even giving a prize to the first negotiators to finalize their chapter.
But as more information about the TPP comes to light, our elected representatives are exercising their muscle, demonstrating that the U.S. Trade Representative's office is out of step with the American public and Congress.
69 Members of Congress (68 democrats and one republican) sent a letter to President Obama urging him to reconsider US proposals for the TPP that would effectively ban popular Buy American and buy local government contracting policies. An article in the Huffington Post called it a congressional "revolt".
On May 15, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) published a leaked chapter of the TPP regarding copyright and the internet – defying the veil of secrecy over the negotiating texts.
This week, the momentum continued to build. Yesterday, Senator Wyden (D-OR) joined the "bipartisan trade revolt", introducing the "Congressional Oversight for Trade Negotiations Act", to protest the Administration's refusal to share information about the TPP with him and his staff.
Also yesterday Reps. Barney Frank, Ranking Member of the Financial Services Committee, and Sander Levin, Ranking Member of House Ways and Means Committee, sent a joint letter to Treasury Secretary Geithner challenging the U.S. Trade Representative's position in the TPP and trade agreements on limiting trading partners' abilities to implement capital controls to ensure financial stability.
If they are smart, U.S. trade officials will slow down and take notice of the mounting concerns by the public and Congress about the secrecy of the negotiations as well as the substance.