Bill to Promote Pan-Pacific Trade Suffers Blow in the Senate

May 13, 2015

The Obama Administration has lost ground in securing a pan-Pacific trade pact, after Senate Democrats refused to allow debate on a bill to grant him fast track authority to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership. 

Jim McCormick, Professor of Political Science at Iowa State University, said the aspect of moving trade agreements quickly through Congress gives Obama increased foreign power.

“The key point is that the president would be in power to negotiate a pact, a free trade agreement, or any trade agreement. Then he would bring it to the Congress, and there’s a set period of time. It has to be voted within 90 days of being submitted to congress,” McCormick said.

Wayne Moyer, Rosenfield Professor of Political Science at Grinnell College, said that the reason fast-tracking trade bills is so crucial is to prevent congressional amendments from impeding negotiations.

“If you allow congressional amendments to the treaty, then it would have to go back to negotiations with all the parties in the treaty which would undercut the negotiations completely,” Moyer said.

The bill had lost the support of some Senate Democrats due to the security of American jobs and corporate responsibility.

“I think the issue is whether this trade agreement will displace American workers and displace American jobs, and also that it will give more power to corporations because part of what has been leaked about TPP is that corporations could go to an arbitration bureau to make appeals in terms of their investments abroad and their actions,” McCormick said.

On the Politics Day edition of River to River, host Ben Kieffer talks with McCormick and Moyer about other issues such as Secretary of State John Kerry’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and possible effects of the conservative elections results from the United Kingdom.