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Sen. Jeff Sessions Files Amendments, Issues ‘Critical Alert’ On TPP Effects On U.S. Sovereignty

Senator Jeff Sessions On CSPAN

Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama has filed two amendments to the trade package now working its way through the Senate. Although the bill suffered a procedural set-back earlier this week we expect it to be taken-up shortly.

Amendment #1233.  Ensures that Congressional approval is needed for all changes to U.S. law, and so prohibits the application of trade promotion procedures to any implementing bill that permits modification of a trade agreement without Congressional approval. Amendment #1233 contains provisions for proper enforcement by allowing a point of order to be raised on the Senate floor against any implementing bill that violates these terms – ensuring that the bill proceeded under normal Senate procedures that allow amendment. This ensures that if changes are made to a trade agreement after Congress’ initial approval of the agreement, then those changes would also need to be approved by Congress, thus safeguarding Congressional authority and U.S. sovereignty against international interference pursuant to any open-ended amendment or “living agreement” provisions.

Amendment #1234.   Holds the Administration and USTR to their word that no trade agreement will be used to change U.S. immigration law or policy. Modeled after the Congressional Responsibility for Immigration Act of 2003 – a bill sponsored by Senators Leahy, Feinstein, and Kennedy – Amendment #1234 prohibits the application of trade promotion procedures to any implementing bill that affects U.S. immigration law. If an implementing bill or trade agreement violates these terms, then Amendment #1234 would allow a point of order to be raised on the Senate floor against the implementing bill, ensuring that the bill proceeded under normal Senate procedures allowing amendment.

With Congress set to vote to begin debate on fast-track authority and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the White House still refuses to answer even the most basic questions about it. These are the questions Senator Sessions says the White House will not answer:

Will it increase or reduce the trade deficit, and by how much?

Will it increase or reduce employment and wages, and by how much?

Will you make the “living agreement” section public and explain fully its implications?

Will China be added to the TPP?

Will you pledge not to issue any executive actions, or enter into any future agreements, impacting the flow of foreign workers into the United States?

Proponents of the Trans-Pacific Partnership want Congress to fast-track it before the American people know what’s in it. They want us to trust that enforcement will occur, even though it has not in the past. They want us to trust that the President won’t utilize this broad new avenue to expand foreign worker programs, even though his record demonstrates that he will. They want us to trust that this time is different.

One of the most important areas TPP proponents ignore is the issue of non-tariff barriers. The barriers to U.S. exports in this century are increasingly not conventional tariffs, but non-tariff barriers like currency manipulation, backdoor taxes, and a variety of state-sanctioned obstacles to market entry. Under the TPP, the U.S. will lower its tariffs but competitor industries will retain their substantial non-tariff barriers. This is what Nucor Steel’s Chairman Emeritus, Daniel DiMicco, means when he talks about “unilateral American trade disarmament” and the “enablement of foreign mercantilism.” In other words, poorly-negotiated trade deals, instead of opening new markets for our industries, tilt the playing field even further in their competitors’ direction. The result is not freer global trade, but more mercantilist market domination.

Millions of Americans, and their communities, have lost good-paying jobs because of our government’s chronic failure to confront currency manipulation and a variety of other illicit trading practices. Perhaps that is why Americans, by a 70-30 margin, say the last two decades of trade deals have benefitted other countries rather than our own. What message should that send Washington?

Rushing to fast-track a new global pact encompassing 40 percent of global GDP—one that includes Vietnam, which has been described as the next China—is not conservative. Conservativism is to proceed with caution, guided by the results of history, with a willingness to adjust one’s position based on real-world results.

The recent trade deal with our strong ally South Korea, we were told, would boost our exports to them by more than $10 billion, but in reality increased them by less than $1 billion—while South Korea’s imports to us soared more than $12 billion, widening our trade gap with them considerably.

While fast-track provides negotiating objectives, they are not enforceable in any meaningful way: if the Trans-Pacific Partnership or any future trade deal ignores those objectives, it is unlikely Congress will do anything about it. Practically speaking, the negotiating objectives operate as mere suggestions. And, as the Congressional Research Service explains, the fast-tracked deal “would supersede existing U.S. law” and result in the U.S. being “bound by international law,” arbitrated by a global tribunal.

Members of Congress have a choice: they can either put blind faith in the verbal assurances of the Obama Administration—that this time is different—or they can demand that we slow down, read the fine print, and not fast-track anything unless we can be sure it will increase, not reduce, jobs and wages.

TPP promoters want Congress to fast-track the Trans Pacific Partnership trade bill before Americans and their representatives know what’s in it.  It is folly for Republicans to support fast-track authority or the Trans Pacific partnership when the Obama White House won’t even answer questions about the global trade pact’s effect on American jobs, wages, or the trade deficit.

Even more importantly, the Congressional Research Service confirms a global trade pact will supersede U.S. law, surrendering American sovereignty and subjecting the United States to international tribunals dominated by our political and economic competitors.

 

TPA and TPP may have many positive economic benefits to America’s 21st Century economy – but how can anyone know or make an informed decision in the atmosphere of secrecy and deception fostered by Barack Obama and his establishment Republican facilitators on Capitol Hill? We urge CHQ readers to call their Senators and Representative (the Capitol Switchboard is 1-866-220-0044) to demand they vote “NO” on TPA and “NO” on the Trans Pacific Partnership unless and until their provisions are made public and disinterested studies of the economic benefits to American workers and quality of life are conducted.

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