Pamela Powers Hannley, a progressive voice for Arizona
The past week has been filled with monumental news stories– from the shootings of 9 African American church goers in Charleston and the subsequent funeral with President Obama giving a moving eulogy, to the burning of several African American churches to history-making SCOTUS decisions upholding Obamacare, Arizona’s independent redistricting commission, and nationwide marriage equality.
With all of this going on, it’s no wonder that yesterday when President Obama signed legislation giving himself fast track authority to move trade agreements (like the notorious Trans-Pacific Partnership) forward the main stream media mostly ignored it.
Here’s a concise recap from the RT…
President Barack Obama signed a bill giving him “fast-track” powers to conduct and conclude trade legislation. The bill was approved by Congress last week after months of contentious debate and several difficult votes.
In addition to the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), as the fast-track bill is officially called, the president signed the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) act, extending aid to US workers who might lose their jobs as a consequence of free-trade deals.
The two bills were originally bundled together in both the Senate and the House of Representatives as a way of securing bipartisan support. However, Obama faced an uphill battle within his own party, with the House Democrats rejecting TAA in order to hold TPA hostage.
After weeks of talks with party leadership and several close roll calls in both the House and the Senate, the bills were voted on separately and approved last week. Most Republican lawmakers backed the president, whose insistence on the trade deals strained relations with the Democrats’ traditional power base of labor unions and environmental groups.
TPA clears the way for Obama to finalize the negotiations with 11 other Pacific Rim governments that are aiming to establish a free-trade area to compete with China, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or the TPP. Another trade deal in the works is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with Europe. That law gives Congress the right to accept or reject the final agreements, but not to make any changes to them.
The fight against the TPP isn’t over, but it’s not looking good for workers.