Senate Vote Dooms Fast Track and Potentially the TPPA
13 May 2015
US Senate Vote Dooms Fast Track for Now, and Potentially the TPPA
‘The future of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is now in doubt, following President Obama’s failure to secure Senate support to advance Fast Track authority to a full debate and vote in Congress’, according to Auckland University Professor Jane Kelsey, who monitors the negotiations.
Fast Track, or Trade Promotion Authority, would require Congress to vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the TPPA and similar deals, and not pick them apart.
A long-delayed Bill was introduced to both houses of Congress last month, but action has been stalled because Obama did not have the votes.
‘Time was running out with TPPA ministers due to meet in Guam from 26 to 28 May where they hoped to close the deal’, Professor Kelsey said.
A number of countries, notably Japan, have said they will not make any final commitments unless the US President has Fast Track authority.
Obama needed 60 votes in the Senate to progress the Bill to its next stage, but could only secure 52. His own party deserted him, including senior Democrats.
The deal-breakers included a demand that ‘disciplines on currency control’ are included in the TPPA – something that Japan and Malaysia could never agree to.
There is even less support for Fast Track in the House of Representatives, which suggests the measure is doomed for now.
In the past week, President Obama has alienated fellow Democrats by an ill-advised attack on highly respected Senator and TPPA critic Elizabeth Warren and his choice of a Nike factory to deliver a cheerleading speech about the benefits to the US of Fast Track and TPPA.
Obama now faces a real rebellion in the ranks, and will have to assess the political risks of continuing to pursue both the Bill and the TPPA as the US moves closer towards a presidential election.
Professor Kelsey suggested the meeting of Ministers from the twelve countries, scheduled for Guam from 26 to 28 May, must now be in doubt.
‘A formal meeting of ministers will make their failure to cement a deal all too visible. At the same time, they will need to make a collective decision on what to do next. The TPPA ministers should treat this as a signal that there is no support for this controversial deal, even in the country that stands to benefit most’, Professor Kelsey said.