McConnell is running short on time. The extension for the Patriot Act and the ‘fast tracking’ trade bill need to move forward in the Senate before Memorial Day weekend, or at least that’s the plan. So the Senate Majority leader has advised senators “against making any sort of travel arrangements until the path forward becomes clear.” That sounds like a thinly veiled threat, no?
Last Tuesday, the ‘fast-tracking’ trade bill was cut short by eight votes. 52 senators voted for a plan that would grant President Barack Obama fast tracking authority to push forward on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) between the United States and eleven other countries bordering the Pacific.
However, the future of the TPP remains in doubt even as Senate Majority Leader McConnell plans another vote for Thursday.
For those of you not familiar with the TPP, it’s is a trade agreement negotiated between 12 countries bordering the Pacific Ocean. This includes United States, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and Singapore.
According to Vox, the idea behind TPP is that it will lower trade obstacles between these countries and reduce tariffs on goods like textiles and rice. In addition, TPP could require its members to introduce more rigorous labor regulations, increase the term of copyright protection and give foreign investors a boost, among other things.
However, at 800 pages by Paul’s count, anything could easily be hidden between the lines in the TPP deal.
The Senator previously told media outlets that he was a ‘no’ vote on the fast-track bill, citing concerns over giving “blanket authority” to the President on overly-secretive trade agreements.
One of the major complaints over the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), and the reason why some senators are opposed to fast tracking, has been over the obscured nature of the TPP. After all, anyone who openly criticizes the TPP after reading it “could be jailed for disclosing its contents,” as one adviser complained on Politico.
However, in the end, the Senator voted in favor of fast tracking the trade bill last week. Confused? Intrigued? We explore why this was a good strategy for chipping away at the secrecy of the TPP in another article on the site. Share your thoughts in the comments below and remember to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
(Photo courtesy of Backbone Campaign, CC BY 2.0)
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