In the run-up to the vote in June giving President Obama a free hand to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Rep. Paul Ryan sought to reassure fellow Republicans.
Congress still would retain final say on whatever emerged from the multinational negotiations, and immigration would not be part of it, the House Ways and Means Committee chairman said. He also argued that failure to act on the a free trade bill with 11 Pacific Rim nations would leave the United States without any influence over international commerce.
“Either we shape the agreement or it shapes us,” he told Fox News Channel in June. “Other people are writing the rules of global economy, and as an American who wants to lead and see our country lead, I’m trying to pass trade.”
Ryan responded to concerns over the secretive nature of the negotiations by telling colleagues during the House debate that the agreement would be “declassified and made public once it’s agreed to.”
With Monday’s announcement that negotiators have struck a deal on a pact that would serve as Obama’s primary second-term legacy, the moment of truth has arrived. And critics are hardly mollified.
Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., blasted the deal as “another sellout.” During an appearance on “The Laura Ingraham Show” on Monday, he said it should be obvious why outsiders in both parties — Republican Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side — are attracting such large crowds on the campaign trail for president.
Lawmakers had no role in the negotiations. It has only two choices: Accept the deal in its entirety or reject it.
“Because Washington is controlled by money,” he said. “It should be controlled by the will of the people. But, no, it’s not.”
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As it stands, Congress cannot offer amendments or propose changes to the TPP. Lawmakers had no role in the negotiations. It has only two choices: Accept the deal in its entirety, or throw the whole mess out.
Obama must give Congress 90 days’ notice. If he waits until negotiators finish finalizing the details before submitting the massive text, it could be February or later before it comes up. Conservative commentator Pat Buchanan predicted that Obama will be reluctant to submit it for a vote at that time, when the early primaries will be in full swing.
“It’s a huge gift to Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders,” he told Ingraham. “And you watch the two of them.”
According to TechDirt.com, a group called Knowledge Ecology International obtained a list of the chapter names of the accord through a Freedom of Information Act request. One of them is called, “Temporary Entry for Business Persons,” which, documents from WikiLeaks suggest, deals with worker visas that could change U.S. law.
The deal reached Monday would eliminate more than 18,000 tariffs on a wide variety of U.S. exports, from cars and heavy machinery to wheat and beef. It would set uniform rules on trade, labor and the environment over an area that accounts for some 40 percent of the world’s economy.
But critics across the political spectrum, from unions to manufacturers like Ford Motor Co. to some Republicans in Congress, argue that it would cost U.S. jobs, enlarge the nation’s trade deficit and lead to more immigration into the United States. According to the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the trade imbalance stood at $41.9 billion in July.
One chapter is called ‘Temporary Entry for Business Persons.’
The deal, years in the making, has been a top priority of Obama. If he secures congressional approval, Republicans will have had a major hand in puffing up Obama’s legacy.
But a June NBC News poll found that 66 percent of the public believed “protecting American industries and jobs by limiting imports from other countries” was more important than “allowing free trade so you can buy products at low prices no matter what country they come from.”
Buchanan argued that the agreement is not just bad politics, but bad policy as well.
“Every great nation that has arisen in the last 200 years has practiced economic nationalism and economic patriotism,” he said. “Free trade is the policy of declining nations.”