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senate Bill S. 995

Should Congress Approve the ‘Fast-Track’ for Free Trade Agreements (Like TPP)? (Senate Version)

Argument in favor

There is bipartisan agreement that this bill will open markets for U.S. exports, give the U.S. more access to imports, and save average consumers money. Congress would still have a chance to weigh in, and ultimately approve or deny any trade agreements.

BarackObama's Opinion
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05/04/2015
"America needs to write the rules of the global economy. We can’t leave it to somebody else.” [twitter.com/POTUS]
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JebBush's Opinion
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05/28/2015
"This is a great deal for America" -@JebBush
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Coleton's Opinion
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05/13/2016
The TPP has limited set of interests that DO NOT include the American people. This is designed to benefit corporations that wish to make international trade easier and less regulated. Less American jobs, less accountability, all disguised as positive globalization.
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Argument opposed

This bill doesn't protect American workers who could lose their jobs because of the increased competition from "fast-tracked" trade agreements. It also gives too much negotiating power to the President and corporations — not the American people.

BernieSanders's Opinion
···
06/18/2015
"The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a disastrous trade agreement designed to protect the interests of multinational corporations at the expense of workers, consumers, and the environment. It will negatively impact some of the poorest people in the world to further enrich some of the wealthiest." [Email from berniesanders.com]
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Steve's Opinion
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05/05/2015
We send our representatives to Washington to communicate The People's interests in the house and relay important details back home for our consideration. Any bill that is too secret to be considered by the people should be shunned. This government must remain "by the people and for the people."
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Marilyn's Opinion
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05/05/2015
My understanding is that the text of the agreement is secret and special permission is required to read it. Plus, it has been created by representatives from "big business". It may be a good bill, but should not be approved until its terms are well known and the supporters are known.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Finance
    IntroducedApril 16th, 2015

What is Senate Bill S. 995?

The measure would let the President to submit free trade agreements to Congress for straight approvals or rejections. Congress would be able to up or down vote an agreement, but they could not add in their own amendments. You may have been hearing about it in the news a lot — because it's considered the missing piece to a U.S. entry into the 12-country trade deal, aka, the Trans-Pacific Partnership pact.

Tying Congress' hands on amendments and other legislative hurdles is why this bill is frequently referred to as a ‘fast-track’ for trade agreements. If passed, the fast-track would be available until July 1, 2018, and could be extended another three years at the President’s request.


Under this bill, all the trade agreements that the U.S. tries to get in on would have to meet these overall trade objectives:

  • To gain more open, equitable, and reciprocal market access.

  • Lowering or eliminating barriers directly related to trade and investment that have decreased opportunities for U.S. exports in the past.

  • Strengthening international trade and investment disciplines, and mediating disputes.

  • Growing the economy, raising living standards, promoting full employment in the U.S., enhancing U.S. competitiveness in terms of the economy (nationally and globally). 

  • Ensuring that trade and environmental policies are mutually supportive — to protect and preserve the environment while optimizing the use of the world’s resources.

  • Respecting worker rights and the rights of children consistent with core labor standards — basically working in agreements that want to eliminate exploitative child labor.

  • Maintaining the domestic environmental and labor standards of agreement partners.

  • Ensuring that small businesses get equal access to international markets, equitable trade benefits, and expanded export market opportunities.

  • Improving the effectiveness of legal regimes, creating more democratic societies, and bolstering respect for internationally recognized human rights.


For those with transparency concerns — critics who call these fast-track deals "secret backdoor meetings for corporate power" — this bill requires that the legislative text of the trade agreement be made public 60 days before the President could sign off on the deal. This legislation would also include a mechanism for taking away the ‘fast-track’ authorities if an agreement doesn’t meet the requirements of this bill in the judgement of either chamber of  Congress.

Impact

Anyone in the U.S. who buys things, American businesses of all sizes, their employees, Congress, the U.S. and global economy, and the President.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 995

A CBO cost estimate is unavailable. However, a CBO analysis of the House version of this bill found that it would cost less than $500,000 over the 2015-2025 period to implement.

More Information

In-Depth:

This bill was introduced with bipartisan support by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) introduced the companion bill into the House. All three hailed the potential for job creation and economic growth that fast-tracked free trade agreements would facilitate. They also gushed over the improved oversight features.


President Obama has expressed his support for the bipartisan proposal, vowing to only sign an agreement that helps improve the economic circumstances of ordinary Americans. In the President’s press release, the White House notes that exports currently support 11 million jobs in the U.S., and that 95 percent of global consumers live outside our borders. 


The President has pushed back against critics of the trade bill, saying: 

“I would not be doing this trade deal if I did not think it was a good deal for the middle class. And when you hear folks making a lot of suggestions about about how bad this trade deal is, when you dig into this bill they are wrong.”


Detractors of this bill have expressed concerns about a lack of safeguards against currency manipulation that can hurt U.S. workers. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) attached an amendment addressing the currency concerns which passed the Senate Finance Committee, as the fast-track bill itself passed on a 20-6 vote. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has criticized the secrecy of negotiations, alleging that she has been told: 

“‘We can’t make this deal public because if the American people saw what was in it, they would be opposed to it.’ If the American people would be opposed to a trade agreement if they saw it, then that agreement should not become the law of the U.S.”

Other Democrats like Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) have proposed alternatives that are favored by unions, but Levin’s amendment did not receive a vote in the House Ways and Means Committee while the original bill passed on a 25-13 vote.


Other provisions of the bill include: 
An outline for specific industry-related trade objectives for goods, services, agriculture, foreign investment, intellectual property, and digital trade. Goals would also be outlines for reducing regulatory barriers to trade and respecting the environment and workers’ rights, while avoiding currency manipulation.

Congress would be able to appoint a designated congressional adviser for trade policy and negotiations. That adviser would consult with the U.S. Trade Representative negotiating an agreement throughout the process before signing off on an agreement. Congressional advisory groups would also be created (in both chambers) to advise the U.S. Trade Representative on negotiating strategies and positions for trade agreements.


Of Note:

There are two major trade agreements that could be approved under this authority — the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Countries that are involved in TPP negotiations include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the U.S., and Vietnam. The economies of these potential partners combine to account for 40 percent of global GDP or $27.5 trillion, 60 percent of which is attributed to the U.S.


The TTIP would be a trade agreement between the U.S. and the European Union (EU), and the combined GDP of the two economies amounts to about half of the world’s GDP. The U.S. and EU had 2014 GDPs of $17.4 trillion and $18.4 trillion, respectively, according to the International Monetary Fund.


According to estimates cited by The Economist, approving both the TTP and TTIP could boost U.S. GDP by $200 billion per year while global GDP would grow by an additional $400 billion.


Media:

Sponsoring Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) Press Release

Cosponsoring Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) Press Release

Senate Finance Committee Press Release

White House Policy Statement (In Favor)

CBO Cost Estimate (House Version)

Politico

The Oregonian

Reuters

Wall Street Journal

Washington Post

Business Wire (In Favor)

Electronic Frontier Foundation (Opposed)


Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: Flickr user Gobierno de Chile)

AKA

Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015

Official Title

A bill to establish congressional trade negotiating objectives and enhanced consultation requirements for trade negotiations, to provide for consideration of trade agreements, and for other purposes.

    "America needs to write the rules of the global economy. We can’t leave it to somebody else.” [twitter.com/POTUS]
    Like (33)
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    "The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a disastrous trade agreement designed to protect the interests of multinational corporations at the expense of workers, consumers, and the environment. It will negatively impact some of the poorest people in the world to further enrich some of the wealthiest." [Email from berniesanders.com]
    Like (214)
    Follow
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    We send our representatives to Washington to communicate The People's interests in the house and relay important details back home for our consideration. Any bill that is too secret to be considered by the people should be shunned. This government must remain "by the people and for the people."
    Like (24)
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    Share
    My understanding is that the text of the agreement is secret and special permission is required to read it. Plus, it has been created by representatives from "big business". It may be a good bill, but should not be approved until its terms are well known and the supporters are known.
    Like (16)
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    There are two reasons for opposing the TPP. First, the US has had 40 years of negative trade balance. The current trade balance runs 1/2 trillion per year. Trade agreements such as NAFTA didn't help the US. Second, this agreement has been shrouded in secrecy. Why on earth would anyone support any agreement where they are not allowed to see what it's really about?
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    Not passing this will help American jobs and businesses.
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    Progressive groups have criticized TPP deals for their lack of transparency and for the potential to allow IP regimes to censor the global market. Congress already has a vested interest in creating export jobs in each congressperson's state. TPP has been protested against globally for raising medication costs and creating larger wealth inequality.
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    Congress should have as much time to read and consider TPP before voting. The agreement has been negotiated in secret and the public is still in the dark about what it contains. Congress shouldn't be pressured to approve it without due consideration.
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    The concept of free trade is fine. U.S. citizens, however, can decrease the chances of U.S. workers' job losses by avoiding buying any and everything under the sun until determining where goods are manufactured. While this cannot be possible with all products we feel we "need," we can do much more to stop buying products from other countries, including produce and other foods. When we buy fewer "things" and make sure they are, as much as possible, from this country's producers and manufacturers, U.S. workers will not have a problem.
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    "This is a great deal for America" -@JebBush
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    This gives too much power to the President. Taking away Congress' ability to amend a proposal is unconstitutional and takes away power from voters.
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    Congress has final authority on all treaties. Not allowing any amendments puts far too much power in the president's hands.
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    So we won't have any jobs in America please stop
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    Everyone has the right to know what is in these Bills and their impact upon people. That takes time.
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    The TPP has limited set of interests that DO NOT include the American people. This is designed to benefit corporations that wish to make international trade easier and less regulated. Less American jobs, less accountability, all disguised as positive globalization.
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    every time one of these fast track deals is made by the white house, another few hundred thousand jobs dissapear and the trade deficet goes up,wake up america.
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    We need trade agreements that foster growth in America. Not China, India, or some other third world country where work is done at a fraction of the cost with near non existent oversight or protections for the worker/consumer. To say nothing of the fact that fast-track undermines our long standing tradition of separation of powers by allowing the President to act unilaterally without input from Congress. #GetMoneyOut #StopFastTrack
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    I don't want the President to have any power except what the Constitution grants him.
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    No fast tracks should ever be made by congress. America has already sold out a lot of American workers.
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    No more than another method to destroy America and put our country at the mercy of greedy corporations
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