Fast Track Trans-Pacific Partnership Gains Momentum

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Air Date: April 20, 2015

Host : Jim Schneider

Guest: Rick Manning

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Rick Manning is President of Americans for Limited Government. They are a non-partisan organization working to identify, expose and work with Congress and state legislatures to prevent the continued expansion of government.

A major trade agreement is being negotiated by the Obama administration, called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). It is being described as the most comprehensive trade pact since the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

But Mr. Manning sees many problems, not the least of which is that the treaty is being negotiated in secret, so that few details are being released. It is supposed to be a wonderful means of increasing the ability of American companies to do business overseas, and a number of manufacturing and business organizations are promoting its approval. The theory is that if it is “good for business, it is good for America”. But if it is that good, why are details of the treaty not being presented as evidence of its benefits?

But others are concerned that it will not be “good” for America. They look at NAFTA, which among other things, resulted in the loss of huge numbers of American jobs to workers in other countries. The concern is this will have a much greater effect, since it will effectively affect trade world-wide, not just in North America. In addition, besides “trade” concerns, it is expected that the treaty will deal with “global warming”, environmental concerns, gun control, abortion, the loosening of patent protections, and many other controversial issues being promoted by the Obama administration.

Another concern is that Congress is abrogating their Constitutional authority to debate, modify, and ratify or not ratify treaties. A procedure called “Fast Track Authority” is receiving support from both sides of the aisle, which essentially gives the administration the final say as to what is in the treaty.

Fast Track Authority legally replaces the constitutional requirement that treaties need to be ratified by the Senate with a two-thirds vote. This provides the options of a filibuster by those opposed to the treaty, or even tabling the treaty and not bringing it to a vote, thus exempting the United States from its requirements. Instead the three major parts of Fast Track include:

1. The treaty can be approved by a simple majority vote in both the Senate and the House, and the Senate does not have the filibuster option.
2. The time frame is limited in which it the vote must be taken.
3. The treaty must be voted up or down with no amendments allowed.

If it is passed, essentially it will impose international standards, thus making it impossible to negotiate future agreements. Because it is a treaty, it would negate American law–and even override the Constitution–so that even if Congress wanted to fix any negative effects, they could no longer do so.

Finally, the “Fast Track” approval is itself on a “fast track”, with measures to authorize it likely to come to a vote as early as Thursday of this week.

More Information

Americans for Limited Government websites:

To express your views on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and the move to give it Fast Track Authority, contact your U.S. Senators and Representative:

Capitol Switchboard
202-224-3121 (Senate)
202-225-3121 (House)

Direct numbers for each Senator or Representative (including their local and regional offices) are available at

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