Free Trade Opponents Claim Victory in Defeating Fast Track, But Critical Battles Still Lie Ahead

Posted June 17, 2015

MP3 Interview with Sarah Anderson, director of the Institute for Policy Studies' Global Economy Project, conducted by Scott Harris


The battle in Congress over President Obama's goal of gaining congressional passage of Trade Promotion Authority, also known as "fast track" – a necessary pre-requisite for later ratification of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement or TPP – hit a roadblock when members of the president's own party rebelled. In a critical vote on June 12, the House of Representatives rejected a measure to grant financial aid to displaced workers, one of three elements passed earlier by the Senate which was needed to advance fast track. In a vote of 302 to 126, the majority of Democrats joined a number of Republican lawmakers to defeat the free trade package. On June 16, members of the House voted to give itself six more weeks to schedule another vote to rescue the president's free trade agenda.

Public disagreement between the president and congressional Democrats on the issue of the proposed 12-nation TPP secret free trade deal, has centered around concern on the outsourcing of good-paying U.S. manufacturing jobs overseas and "broken promises" on trade agreement provisions that are designed to hold trading partners accountable for adhering to high labor, environmental and human rights standards. Another controversial provision, called Investor-State Dispute Settlement, allows multi-national corporations to initiate lawsuits against local, state and federal public health, environmental, consumer and labor laws, as well as court rulings if a claim is made that they impinge on business profits.

Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Sarah Anderson, director of the Institute for Policy Studies’ Global Economy Project, who discusses the fight by labor and environmentalists activists to block fast track and the Trans Pacific Partnership free trade agreement, with a focus on the issues of trade, democracy and corporate power.

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