With a critical series of House votes scheduled for Friday, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren is making a last-minute push to kill President Barack Obama’s bid to secure fast-track trade negotiating authority.
The vote is expected to be close, and many Democrats are angry about a funding mechanism contained in the Senate version of the bill that would pay for a worker retraining program by taking money from Medicare. On Thursday afternoon, Warren e-mailed her liberal supporters, imploring them to call their representative and urge a “no” vote on the trade bills. “We have one last chance to stop Fast Track on trade—right now!” Warren writes.
While Republican leaders don’t normally bring a bill to the floor unless they’re confident they have the votes for passage, House Speaker John Boehner’s tenure has been marked by several notable failures. Most Republicans support the trade measure, so a defeat on Friday would most likely be chalked up to disagreements within the Democratic Party over the trade bill, which many liberals and labor unions vehemently oppose.
Warren, a liberal icon, has led several successful revolts against the White House in the past, such as blocking a key Treasury nominee in January. While she opposed the trade deal in the Senate, and was personally criticized by Obama, she has frustrated many liberals by staying relatively quiet after it cleared the chamber last month. That’s probably because most of the Democrats wavering on trade don’t hail from the sort of liberal districts where direct pressure from Warren would inspire fear. Instead, Warren is hoping that their constituents will apply that pressure directly.
Here’s her e-mail:
We have one last chance to stop Fast Track on trade – right now! The House has scheduled a vote for Friday, and dozens of members of Congress are still undecided (or undeclared) about which way they will vote.
Will you take a minute right now to call your representative’s office and tell him or her to vote NO on Fast Track?
Click here look up your representative’s phone number.
As a quick recap: Right now, the President is finishing up the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal covering 40% of the world’s economy. It was negotiated with the help of 28 working groups, but here’s the scary part: 85% of the people in those groups are corporate executives or corporate lobbyists. I’m not against trade – but a tilted process produces a tilted product, and I’m really worried about a trade deal that works for big, multinational corporations and leaves everyone else in the dirt.
We saw what has happened to American jobs under trade deals like NAFTA: a million lost jobs and stagnant wages for decades. President Obama says this time it’s different – but you can’t see the deal. It’s classified. The Administration will release the text to the public onlyafter Congress passes Fast Track.
What does that mean? Before you are allowed to see the giant Asia trade deal, Congress must voluntarily give up its power to offer amendments and sharply reduce its ability to block a bad deal. So, for example, if this TPP deal includes a dangerous ISDS provisions that would let multinational corporations effectively challenge American laws outside of American courts, our hands would be tied.
Also, Fast Track wouldn’t apply to just this one TPP deal. It would apply to ANY trade deal cut by ANY President for the next six years. So if one of the anti-worker, climate-change-denying, Wall-Street accountability-hating Republicans gets elected President, they would have the same Fast Track power to ram bad trade deals that undermine our laws through Congress just 18 months from now.
It’s just plain irresponsible to sign a six-year Fast Track agreement – and to sign away our right to fix the TPP before the public has seen the deal.
It only takes a minute or two to look up your member of Congress, call his or her office, and tell the person who answers the phone: “Hello, I’m (name) from (city), and I’m calling to urge him/her to vote NO on trade Fast Track. Do you know how he/she is planning on voting?”
Can we count on you to make one final call to your representative before Friday’svote? Click here to look up the phone number now.
Thank you for being a part of this.
P.S. Even though labor unions, environmental groups, human rights groups, legal experts, and many others oppose Fast Track, trade doesn’t fall neatly in a Republican category or Democratic category. Some Democrats will vote for Fast Track – and some Republicans will vote against it. No matter where you live, no matter who represents you, please make your voice heard. Please call your representative now and tell him or her to vote NO on Fast Track.
P.P.S. Think about family, friends, and neighbors who may not get these emails. Think about the folks you know in other states. Ask if they would call. Forward any part of this email – we need the help. This is how online grassroots democracy really works.