Hatch, Wyden introduce same old Fast Track model
Plan would close the hatch on democracy and widen income inequality
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), introduced a plan to grant expedited Executive authority on trade deals. Called “Fast Track,” the plan announced today, is almost identical to the Fast Track bill rejected by Congress and the public in 2014. If approved, Fast Track would expedite congressional approval of two massive trade deals without amendment or proper consideration. The Trans Atlantic and Trans Pacific trade agreements, both of which are currently under negotiation by the Obama administration, would allow big oil companies and Wall Street financiers to sue for millions in compensation for the cost of complying with environmental and other regulations. More generally, the Atlantic and Pacific trade deals would trump sensible safeguards related to food safety, toxic chemicals, and global warming. If Fast Track is approved, these trade deals could be rammed through Congress.
The Hatch-Wyden bill would grant the executive branch powers the Constitution’s framers intended for Congress to exercise, including:
- The power to circumvent ordinary congressional committee review and directly submit the legislation for mandatory and expedited floor votes in the House and Senate;
- The power to override House and Senate control of their schedules for floor votes; and
- The power to ban any amendments to a trade agreement.
Friends of the Earth President Erich Pica offers the following statement on the introduction of the Hatch–Wyden bill for trade promotion authority:
This is the latest in a series of blatant moves which reveal that Congressional Republican leadership represents only the will of the richest one percent of individuals, big business and their donors, not we the people. Amid a litany of giveaways to the super rich, and aggressive assault on bedrock environmental laws and unabashed disdain for unions and workers, this plan is a deal in name only.
The Hatch–Wyden Fast Track bill is the same old model of closed door trade promotion legislation. Congress must not give away its constitutional authority and facilitate the ratification of environmentally destructive trade plans like the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement. There is no excuse for Senator Wyden, given widespread opposition to the bill within his home state of Oregon, to sell out the environment and workers in this way.
Fast tracking these powers allows Congress to abdicate its responsibility, effectively shutting the hatch on democracy and widening income inequality.