(NaturalNews) For some reason, President Barack Obama pushed for fast-track trade authority for a new trade deal that he also doesn’t want anyone in Congress to see before he gets that authority. Even worse, the Senate’s majority Republican leadership just gave Obama exactly what he wants. So much for having an “opposition” party.
For those who don’t know, “fast track trade authority” is the authority to make a trade deal and then offer it to Congress for an up-or-down vote, essentially taking away the ability of lawmakers to offer and add amendments. Obama wants this authority so he can sign off on a the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.
Ordinary Americans, however, can’t learn anything about it because the administration has refused to make the details public. Even lawmakers — the people’s elected representatives — are sworn to secrecy before shown the details of the deal.
It’s the opponents of the deal who are the problem, not the White House’s secrecy
As reported by Politico:
If you want to hear the details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal the Obama administration is hoping to pass, you’ve got to be a member of Congress, and you’ve got to go to classified briefings and leave your staff and cellphone at the door.
If you are a congressperson who wants to actually read the text of the deal — unlike when Democrats writ large passed the massive “Obamacare” legislation — you are asked to go to a room in the basement of the Capitol Visitor Center to be handed just one section at a time. Then, you are watched over as you read it and then forced to give back any notes you might have taken before you leave.
How can an administration get away with treating the people’s elected representatives this way?
“It’s like being in kindergarten,” Rep. Rosa DeLauro. D-Connecticut, who has become the leader of the opposition to President Barack Obama’s trade agenda, told Politico. “You give back the toys at the end.”
The difference is that this agreement is obviously not a play thing, and it’s equally obvious that this administration is once again trying to hide something. What is the devil in the details of the TPP agreement?
Secrecy is actually hurting Obama this time around, even in his own party. In fact, the push to keep the provisions of this deal hidden is central to the strategy being formed by congressional opponents. As Politico notes, the administration isn’t even telling Congress what it is asking for or what has already been promised to foreign signatories of the deal:
The White House has been coordinating an administration-wide lobbying effort that’s included phone calls and briefings from Secretary of State John Kerry, Labor Secretary Tom Perez, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and others. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has been working members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro has been talking to members of his home state Texas delegation.
Come clean, Mr. President
In typical fashion for this administration, opponents of the deal are being portrayed as the problem rather than casting the blame on the White House.
“Officials from the White House and the United States trade representative’s office say they’ve gone farther than ever before to provide Congress the information it needs and that the transparency complaints are just the latest excuse for people who were never going to vote for a new trade deal anyway,” said Politico.
Oddly, one of the deal’s supporters is none other than Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky. He’s even gone so far as to compliment Obama while promising to bring the deal up for a vote “soon.”
Not all lawmakers are rolling over. Senator Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, has sent Obama a letter demanding that the details of the current and future trade deals be made public before any vote.
“Congress has an obligation to defend the legitimate interests of U.S. workers, and the rights of all Americans as citizens of a sovereign Republic,” he wrote.