The Interfaith Working Group on Trade and Investment – representing Quaker, Jewish, Protestant and Catholic organizations, Catholic sisters and clergy – has joined the opposition to "fast track" trade promotion authority that corporate groups and President Obama are seeking.
The groups say that upcoming trade agreements, now being negotiated in secret, deserve a fair and full public hearing instead of being rushed through Congress before the public has time to fully understand what the government is agreeing to.
With "fast track," Congress votes to set aside its duty to define, consider and amend trade deals. Under fast track rules Congress is not allowed to amend trade agreements and is only allowed very limited debate on the House and Senate floor. Also Congress must pass the agreement within 90 days of the public seeing the text of the agreement for the first time. This is designed to keep the public from having time to fully understand the agreement, consider all of its implications and rally opposition if opposition is warranted.
The interfaith group has released a public letter stating the reasons for their opposition. "Our faith traditions call for community participation in the democratic process because we believe this is the only way to ensure all people have a meaningful opportunity to participate in the creation of good policies," the letter says. "'Fast track” is a broken and undemocratic process because it privileges the views of powerful global corporations in defining the terms of trade agreements, while excluding voices of those adversely impacted. This impedes progress towards a more just world."
At a press conference announcing the group's opposition letter Sister Simone Campbell, Executive Director of NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, said, "Catholic sisters in many countries have seen firsthand the devastating effects of trade agreements signed only to increase corporate wealth and power. People and the environment deserve the protection afforded by careful deliberation at the negotiation table, where all voices can be heard. It’s a matter of justice."
The Interfaith Working Group on Trade and Investment includes:
- American Friends Service Committee
- American Jewish World Service
- Catholic Democrats
- Catholics in the Alliance for the Common Good
- Center of Concern
- Church of the Brethren, Office of Public Witness
- Church World Service
- Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach
- Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM)
- Faith in Public Life
- Franciscan Action Network
- Friends Committee National Legislation
- Holy Cross International Justice Office
- Islamic Institute of Boston
- Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR)
- Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
- Medical Mission Sisters Alliance for Justice
- Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate - Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation office
- Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity
- National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
- NETWORK, a National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
- Pax Christi USA
- Presbyterian Church USA
- Presbyterian Peace Fellowship
- Provincial Council of the Cleric of St. Viator (Viatorians)
- Provincial Council, Priests of the Sacred Heart, US Province
- Sisters of Charity of New York Office of Peace, Justice and Integrity of Creation
- Sisters of Mercy of the Americas - Institute Leadership Team
- Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur
- Society of the Divine Word, Chicago Province, Justice and Peace Committee
- Sisters of the Holy Cross - Congregation Justice Committee
- United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries
- United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
- Western Province, Congregation of the Mission Xaverian Brothers Generalate