Yesterday, thirteen pro-corporate Senate Democrats decided to turn their backs on American workers, and vote for “Fast Track” for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal.
What’s Fast Track, you ask? Fast Track is an authority Congress can grant the President to move negotiated trade deals like TPP quickly through Congress, preventing any amendments or filibusters. Fast Track would also extend to the future President, as the authority lasts for six years.
Because the 13 Democratic Senators joined most of the Senate Republicans to successfully reach 60 yes votes, they preventing any filibusters from Senators Sherrod Brown, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, or other TPP opponents.
TPP risks millions of American jobs, threatens to undermine our financial reform and environmental protection laws, and gives big corporations incentives to move jobs overseas. Between the NAFTA and WTO deals, America lost 5 million jobs, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics. So it’s particularly shameful that these 13 Senate Democrats (and 47 Senate Republicans) are willing to roll the dice on American workers once again.
Organizations and politicians slammed the passage.
“Everyone knows that Wall Street bankers and corporate CEOs own the Republican Party. But in the oligarchy that America is fast becoming, owning one party isn’t enough. It’s clear from today’s vote that the oligarchs own a big chunk of the Democratic Party, too.”
Senator Sherrod Brown emphasized how happy CEOs will be over the passage of Fast Track, saying, “This was a day of celebration in the corporate suites in this country.”
And Senator Bernie Sanders took to the floor and said “This agreement was opposed by every union in this country…by almost every environmental group…It is a great day for the big money interests, not a great day for working families”:
Then today, House Leader Nancy Pelosi also caved, and instead of keeping the fight going to try and block TPP tactically, by directing House Democrats to vote against the Trade Adjustment Assistance plan that many Senate Democrats said their support depended on, the Huffington Post reports that Pelosi would “support passage of a key measure tethered to President Barack Obama’s broader trade agenda.”
It didn’t have to be this way. Democrats had all the leverage in the world to demand real concessions, or to sink the deal altogether. Instead, they gave the Obama-Republican TPP coalition what they needed, in exchange for nothing at all, as Alexis Goldstein notes:
“President Obama and the pro-Fast Track Republicans needed 13 Senate Democrats to get Fast Track across the finish line, especially following Senator Ted Cruz’s newfound opposition. Had Senate Democrats locked arms, they would’ve had all the leverage to demand far, far more than just a “commitment” to a TAA vote from Republicans. After all, given the anti-climate and anti-immigration amendments, there were many reasons to reject this version of Fast Track. What’s more, this is a issue that labor groups have been willing to take to the mat…
Instead, Cantwell and 12 of her fellow Democratic Senators passed Fast Track…for absolutely nothing at all.”