Warning: TPP Rearing Its Ugly Head

Dave Johnson

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) went dormant in Congress after election season began. It became clear that the public despises our country’s corporate-dominated “trade deals” that let companies just lay people off and close factories here to take advantage of conditions in countries that allow people and the environment to be exploited. Candidates who could sense which way the wind was blowing told voters they oppose TPP, and Congress dropped it — for now.

But now people who follow these things are hearing more and more talk behind the scenes that indicate corporate America is going to try to push TPP through in the “lame duck” Congressional session after the elections. This is a session in which the old Congress consisting of the ones who might have gotten voted out minus new ones who just got voted in, and the re-elected incumbents who won’t be up for re-election for two more years can sneak things past the public with little or no accountability.

Last month Bloomberg’s Tatiana Darie, in “Backers of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact pin hopes on lame-duck Congress,” wrote about this:

“I think we’ll probably get it through, but it’s shaky,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, said in an interview. “It will probably have to be after the elections. I think we have a better chance to passing it after, but we’ll see” what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to do, he said.

McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, has indicated plans not to pursue it “certainly before the election,” leaving the door open to a vote in the lame-duck session, according to trade analysts.

[. . .] Business groups are “going to put a lot of pressure on McConnell to make sure this doesn’t fall through, and they have influence,” said Julian Zelizer, a presidential historian at Princeton University.

[. . .] Lawmakers fearing a voter backlash may be more apt to stay quiet on the issue through Election Day and take controversial votes during the lame-duck session, which can last as long as a month after the election and before a new Congress convenes in January, according to Bloomberg Intelligence.

Monday’s Inside Trade newsletter (subscription), had a story, “Obama Signals TPP To Move Forward After Election Cycle Ends”:

President Obama this week said the prospects for congressional approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership will be best after the election season ends, signaling that the White House still believes it can successfully navigate political headwinds and push the trade agreement through Congress this year.

“And with respect to Congress and Trans-Pacific Partnership, I think after the primary season is over the politics settle down a little bit in Congress, and we’ll be in a position to start moving forward,” Obama said on Sunday (April 24) in Germany at a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “But I think we all know that elections can sometimes make things a little more challenging, and people take positions, in part, to protect themselves from attacks during the course of election season.”

Where Obama says here that people running for office “take positions, in part, to protect themselves from attacks during the course of election season,” he means they lie and tell voters that they are against TPP, but they intend to vote for TPP after we’ve vote for them. Nice.

Tuesday The Hill reported that the head of the huge corporate lobbying group, the Chamber of Commerce, expects this to happen. “Chamber’s Donohue: TPP vote likely after the elections”:

A top U.S. business leader expects a vote on a massive Asia-Pacific trade agreement after the November elections.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue said Monday that election-year pressures will force the Senate to vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) during a lame-duck session to protect several vulnerable Republican incumbents.

Translation: they understand that the voters hate it, but the giant corporations want it, so they will try to push a vote after the election to “protect” politicians from the voters. And what the Chamber of Commerce “expects” of Congress usually happens.

Call your Representative and both your Senators and let them know how you feel about the possibility of Congress sneaking a vote for TPP after the election.

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