Oregon Senator Ron Wyden is looking to revive the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other trade agreements after stiff opposition to “Fast Track” trade promotion authority stalled negotiations.
He is planning to introduce a new TPA bill called “Smart Track,” and while there are few details available about it, some are already worried the plan could be a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Wyden has made clear his intention to build a coalition around Smart Track that includes Democrats who previously opposed Fast Track. According to statements he’s made to the press, Smart Track will include provisions that increase transparency in the negotiating process and improve rights protections.
Such provisions are certainly welcome, but they’re not enough on their own to merit support for Smart Track. There has been no mention of provisions to protect Congress’ role in actually approving the contents of the agreements — a central complaint against giving the president Fast Track trade promotion authority.
We need to stand firm in support of Congressional oversight of trade negotiations. Please sign our petition to Congress against any TPA that restricts their oversight of trade deals.
If you live in Oregon, please sign our petition directly to Senator Wyden.
TPP negotiators wanted Fast Track because it would have reduced Congress’s authority to oversee trade to merely rubber-stamping deals already agreed to by the president. It would limit debate and block amendments, keeping the contents of the negotiations safe from public scrutiny or revision.
Congress has a history of granting Fast Track authority to presidents, but this time Democrats pushed back, fully aware that they would be on the hook for their deference to negotiators once the deals passed and their toxic contents came to light.
Without Fast Track to convince negotiating partners that their secret sell-out to multinational corporations would remain secret until it became law, the process effectively ground to a halt and a majority in Congress remains opposed to this day.
There has not been a single word from Wyden indicating that Smart Track will change the very dynamic that spurred opposition to Fast Track. Until his bill clearly and properly vests accountability with Congress, we can’t take any risks. Please join us in making absolutely clear to Congress that their constituents oppose any TPA that lets the president ink a deal without oversight and approval.