[Editor’s Note: The following letter from Senator Warren was received by a CPA member this week.]
Thank you for contacting me about trade promotion authority (TPA). As you may know, under TPA (or “Fast Track” authority), Congress agrees to expedited consideration of legislation that implements a trade agreement, and gives up its right to amend that legislation. Congress recently agreed to provide the President with Fast Track authority for six years.
I voted against Fast Track authority because I had a number of serious concerns about tying Congress’ hands for the remainder of President Obama’s term and into the next two presidential terms. Our process for negotiating trade agreements is badly broken. America’s specific negotiating objectives are not publicly shared, but they are shared privately with advisory committees made up primarily of corporate executives and lobbyists, who have an opportunity to weigh in on them. It is no surprise that our recent trade deals have reflected this same corporate slant.
Moreover, experience with past trade agreements has shown that our approach to enforcing trade deals is also broken. If a corporation believes that another country has passed a law that violates a trade agreement and costs them money, they can bring a claim against the country before a panel of arbitrators that sit outside any court system. That group of three lawyers can force the country to provide millions — or even billions — in compensation, and their ruling is not subject to review or appeal. Meanwhile, people looking to enforce the labor or environmental standards in our agreements must plead with our government to bring a claim on their behalf, and decades of evidence demonstrates that our government rarely brings such claims, even in the face of overwhelming evidence. That skewed enforcement process only further tilts the balance of these trade agreements in favor of multinational corporations and against working families. Thank you again for reaching out to me on this issue. I hope you will continue to keep me informed about the issues that are important to you.
United States Senator