Coalition of public interest groups calls on Congress to oppose bill to ‘fast track’ TPP

By End the Lie

Members of the Communication Workers of America protest the TPP fast track with Rep. Dan Maffei (D-N.Y.) on Friday, January 24, 2014. (Photo Credit: Wendy Colucci of the CNY Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO.)

Members of the Communication Workers of America protest the TPP fast track with Rep. Dan Maffei (D-N.Y.) on Friday, January 24, 2014. (Photo Credit: Wendy Colucci of the CNY Area Labor Federation, AFL-CIO.)

In a letter to Congress, a coalition of public interest groups has called on legislators to oppose a bill that would “fast track” the Trans-Pacific Partnership and restrict the ability of lawmakers to have real input into or even review such agreements.

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The bill would also restrict the ability of Congress to have a meaningful role in the talks surrounding the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) also known as the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA). Like the TPP, TAFTA is a massive trade agreement.

The TPP has come under a great deal of scrutiny despite the significant lack of transparency. Everyone from privacy and Internet advocacy groups to environmental groups to a Canadian doctor have voiced opposition.

The “Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014” (HR 3830/S. 1900), introduced on Jan. 9, would give the U.S. even less input on the already secretive agreement.

On Tuesday, Demand Progress, New Media Rights, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Open Media, the Free Press Action Fund, Public Citizen, Global Exchange, IOGT International and Techdirt co-signed a letter calling on the Senate Finance Committee to oppose that bill.

The letter not only criticizes the procedural problems with fast tracking trade agreements, but also focuses on the “trade objectives” in the bill.

The trade objectives “encourage a copyright maximalist agenda without upholding fair use rights,” according to the EFF.

If the Congress passes the bill, it would transfer much of the power in deciding trade policy that is currently in the hands of Congress into the hands of the executive branch.

While the legislation claims that the process “provides greater transparency and gives Congress greater oversight of the Administration’s trade negotiations,” it actually does the opposite according to the EFF.

In addition to the letter published on Tuesday, an anti-TPP letter was signed by over 550 labor, environmental, family farm and community groups on Monday.

Other letters signed by over 170 Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives have also voiced their opposition to putting so much of their authority into the hands of the executive.

A tool to help Americans oppose the fast track bill has gone online, endorsed by a wide range of groups.

Other groups opposing the fast track range from reddit to the Sierra Club to the Teamsters to AFL-CIO to BoingBoing to YourAnonNews to the Organic Consumers Association to the Rainforest Action Network to the GMO Action Alliance and many more.

Currently, the legislation remains in the Senate Finance Committee. It remains to be seen if it will move out of committee and be passed by the Senate.

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One Response to Coalition of public interest groups calls on Congress to oppose bill to ‘fast track’ TPP

  1. Ronnie January 30, 2014 at 12:57 PM

    “…we have to fast track it so that we can find out what’s in it.”

    Reply

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