With the Senate poised to vote to end debate on Obama’s fast-track trade legislation,
Wednesday, Sessions took on arguments for the trade deal with a series of what he office says are “myths” versus “truths” about the trade deal under consideration in Congress.
In the myth buster account, Sessions’ office says not only will fast-track erode congressional power over the trade process but the trade agreements implemented under that authority will trump U.S. law.
Myth: Trade agreements implemented under fast-track will not supersede existing U.S. law.
Truth: Every trade agreement negotiated by the President and foreign governments is accompanied by implementing legislation which necessarily supersedes existing law. Proponents of fast-track are relying on semantics: the trade agreement itself will not supersede existing law, but the “fast-tracked” legislation implementing the trade agreement will. What’s more, the Trans-Pacific Partnership—which would be fast-tracked by TPA—will give jurisdiction to international tribunals to settle disputes between parties to the agreement.
Myth: Congress will have more control over the trade process under fast-track.
Truth: If Congress gives the Executive six-year fast-track authority, the Senate will cede its ability to amend any future legislation implementing any yet-unseen global trade and regulatory pact; cede its ability to control debate over that pact; and cede its ability to subject that pact to the 67-vote threshold required for treaties, as well as the 60-vote threshold required for important legislation. Proponents of fast-track suggest the negotiating objectives somehow bind the Administration; this is false. The negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership are nearly complete and have been ongoing for years, long before any negotiating objectives will have been suggested. Moreover, the negotiating objectives are vague and lack any meaningful enforcement mechanisms—particularly enforcement from Senators and Representatives not on the revenue committees. Congress will be giving up the only leverage it has: the ability to amend legislation or to refuse to cut-off debate. No fast-tracked deal has ever been defeated, regardless of whether fast-track “objectives” have been ignored, overlooked, or violated by the Executive.