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US Desperation on Fast Track Plummets to New Depths

US Desperation on Fast Track Plummets to New Depths

‘In the latest desperate attempt to haul Fast Track authority and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) back from the brink, the Republicans in the US House of Representatives have launched a new vote for tomorrow by tagging it on to an unrelated bill on retirement programmes for firefighters’, according to Professor Jane Kelsey from the University of Auckland.

The previous Bill failed after being split into two votes, as a procedural manoeuvre intended to defeat overwhelming opposition of the President’s own Democrats in the House to Fast Track and the TPPA backfired.

The first vote, on assistance for US workers who lose their jobs because of free trade agreements, was resoundingly defeated as Democrats argued it did not go far enough to compensate for the TPPA. The second vote, specifically on Fast Track or Trade Promotion Authority, passed with a narrow margin of seven votes, almost all of them Republicans.

An interim measure by the House allowed the legislation to be brought back any time before 30 July.

‘The latest tactic from the Republicans is to promote Fast Track as a stand alone Bill, in the hope that the original numbers stick’, Kelsey said.

‘Yesterday, the line was that there would be no vote on a stand-alone bill this week. Today, we hear the vote is scheduled for tomorrow, but on a Bill that links Fast Track to legislation on pensions for fire-fighters and law enforcement officers.’

Even if the latest Bill gets through the House, it would have to go back to the Senate for endorsement because it would be different from the Bill they originally passed. It is very uncertain what the fate of this would be in the Senate where Democrat support was contingent on the trade assistance package.

Professor Kelsey observed that Obama himself would face a quandary. He has vowed not to support a Fast Track Bill that does not contain the trade assistance component. He also faces a deteriorating relationship to his own Party over a deal that is profoundly unpopular with the core Democratic constituency.


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