Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced yesterday his rejection of the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014, a fast track bill designed to rush unamendable free trade deals through Congress. The bill would block any amendments on trade deals, allow Congress minute debate and force a straight up-or-down vote.
Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) introduced the bill earlier this month which was automatically met by interparty opposition. The draft of the bill comes on the heels of Obama’s campaign to get Congress to approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and seems to be tailored specifically to help pass the TPP. Baucus’ replacement as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), has even expressed disapproval of the bill.
“Everyone knows how I feel about this,” said Reid. “Sen. Baucus knows. Sen. Wyden knows. Everyone would be well-advised not to push this right now.”
Many Democrats oppose the fast-track bill, not to mention the TPP, saying that either could severely hurt American workers because the bill and the TPP protect corporate interests. Republicans have become frustrated with Obama because they think he hasn’t done enough to earn his party’s support of either.
House Democrats have rallied against the TPP as 151 Democratic members of the House sent a critical letter to Obama regarding their concerns with the TPP.
During his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, President Obama only touched upon the TPP issue briefly and vaguely. “We need to work together on tools like bipartisan trade promotion authority to protect our workers, protect our environment, and open new markets to new goods stamped, ‘Made in the USA,’” said Obama.
With Republican frustration, and its most extreme factions opposing the TPP, and an overall Democratic resistance in the House and Senate, Obama is still facing a difficult time trying to get the TPP off of the ground. Congressional members blocking the fast-track bill is the first step in killing the destructive and corporate-favoring Trans-Pacific Partnership.