ACTION ALERT: House and Senate Near Deal to Fast-Track TPP, Drafted in Secrecy By and For Corporations

December 8th, 2013 - by admin

Fight for the Future & Center for Rights & The Huffington Post & The New York Times & The Electronic Freedom Foundation – 2013-12-08 03:06:18

The Trans-Pacific Partnership Has a Weakness:
We Can Stop It If We Act Quickly

Fight for the Future & Center for Rights

(December 7, 2013) — WASHINGTON, DC (December 6, 2013) — A sweeping trade agreement between the United States and a dozen Pacific nations could be approved by Congress as early as next week, a move that would signal a major victory for the special interests and corporations backing the deal.

House and Senate negotiators are closing in on a deal to “fast-track” the Trans-Pacific Partnership, according to congressional aides who spoke to The New York Times. Opponents of the TPP have urged Congress to reject the fast-track plan, noting that the TPP has been negotiated almost entirely behind closed doors.

We’re connected because of the Internet. But the things we love about the net threaten the power of governments and the profits of corporate monopolies. That’s why world leaders and industry lobbyists are meeting in Singapore this weekend to finalize the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a secretive trade agreement that will severely restrict the freedom of the web.

Luckily, we figured out a key weakness in the TPP plan that could bring the whole thing crashing down. Click here to find out how to help.

Top US officials are desperately trying to “Fast-Track” the TPP, which would allow them to sign the agreement without allowing Congress to meaningfully debate or change anything. They think that Fast Track is a way to sneakily pass the TPP despite the fact that people from literally every political ideology oppose it.

Here’s what’s awesome, though. There’s a good chance that corporate cronies in Congress don’t have enough votes to get Fast Track approved for the TPP. It’s going to be really, really close. If we flood Congress with emails and phone calls right now, we have a very real chance of stopping Fast Track. And experts on global policy have said clearly that if that happens, the entire TPP agreement could fall apart, and the worst aspects of it — like Internet censorship — would certainly be off the table.

There’s so much to hate about the TPP — which is why everyone from libertarians to labor unions are joining forces to stop it.

The chapter published by WikiLeaks last month showed us that the TPP is like a Christmas wish-list for the RIAA, MPAA, and other corporate lobbyists. It resurrects some of the worst parts of SOPA, like forcing ISPs to police the Internet, and it would push extreme copyright regulations onto other countries without expanding protections for free speech.

There’s no time to lose — we need to shut this thing down right now before Congress goes on break and our attention is diverted. Click here to get the tools to fight the TPP.

If you’ve already signed the petition, call Congress. Most importantly, forward this email to as many people as you can, and share on social media.

These trade agreements die hard — it’s an amazing moment in history that we even have a chance to stop this one. We’re honored to have you on our side for the battle.

P.S. If your Representative is among the 151 Democrats and 22 Republicans who signed letters to Obama opposing Fast-Track, you can help by sharing this petition on Twitter and Facebook. We need to keep the pressure on, and convince more members of Congress that a vote to Fast-Track the TPP is as politically toxic as a vote for SOPA would have been.

House And Senate Near
Deal To Green-Light Trade Pact

The Huffington Post

WASHINGTON (December 6, 2013) — A sweeping trade agreement between the United States and a dozen Pacific nations could be approved by Congress as early as next week, a move that would signal a major victory for the special interests and corporations backing the deal.

House and Senate negotiators are closing in on a deal to “fast-track” the Trans-Pacific Partnership, according to congressional aides who spoke to The New York Times.

Approval of trade promotion authority for the TPP would effectively insulate the trade agreement from legislative obstacles in Congress, like filibusters and poison-pill amendments. Granting fast-track status to potential US trade agreements has become standard practice in recent years.

On Capitol Hill, the negotiations have been led by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus of Montana, a Democrat, and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp of Michigan, a Republican. Both men lead the powerful tax-writing committees in their respective chambers.

Aides told the Times that lawmakers were aiming to have a deal together by the end of the legislative session in two weeks, although they were skeptical that any final approval would be voted on before the New Year.

Outside of Washington, the TPP enjoys well-funded backing from a wide swath of corporations seeking cheaper access to markets overseas. The pharmaceutical, agriculture and technology industries would all likely benefit greatly if the TPP were approved.

But US companies aren’t the only ones pressing lawmakers to fast-track the TPP. On Monday, the Embassy of Canada, a party to the TPP, will host a reception “in honor of the Trans Pacific Partnership.” This, despite the fact that the deal is far from done.

Members of Congress and congressional staffers have been invited to the embassy shindig, which will “feature a selection of international beverages.” (While congressional ethics rules prohibit members and staff from accepting meals and drinks from lobbyists, the free cocktails served up at embassy events are considered a “mark of courtesy.”)

Opponents of the TPP have urged Congress to reject the fast-track plan, noting that the TPP has been negotiated almost entirely behind closed doors. There are also concerns that the TPP’s tariff and export agreements could hurt the US manufacturing sector.

House and Senate
Are Near Deal to Speed Trade Pact

Annie Lowrey / The New York Times

(December 5, 2013) — Negotiators from the House and Senate are nearing an agreement that would “fast-track” the sweeping trade deal the Obama administration is negotiating with a dozen Pacific nations, officials said Thursday.

Such fast-track authority is generally considered a prerequisite for achieving a major trade pact, as it would ensure that the package cannot be filibustered or subject to amendment by Congress, giving confidence to the foreign partners negotiating with the United States that any deal they agree to will stick.

A congressional aide close to the negotiations said that both sides had made significant progress on reaching a fast-track deal, also known as trade-promotion authority. But the aide, who declined to speak on the record because of the delicate nature of the talks, emphasized that an agreement was not complete.

Senator Max Baucus, Democrat of Montana and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Representative Dave Camp, Republican of Michigan and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, have been working on a deal for months.

They are expected to bring forward a bill next week, during the last few days Congress will be in session this year. But the plan still faces several obstacles, including opposition from some Democrats and Republicans in the House. Aides doubted that the fast-track legislation would reach a floor vote this year, given the crowded the Congressional calendar.

The bill is strongly backed by business but generally opposed by labor unions. Many lawmakers have argued that a Pacific trade deal to lower some barriers to exports and open markets at home and abroad, and a sweeping deal the White House is working out with the European Union, would provide significant gains for the United States economy and help expand global commerce.

But the still unconsummated trade deals face skepticism from both sides. And some Republicans and Democrats have objected to the way the White House has dealt with Congress during its negotiations, signaling that they fear that granting trade promotion authority would cede too much power to the Obama administration.

Civil Society Coalition Letter Opposing Fast-Track Authority
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Dear Chairman Baucus, Ranking Member Hatch, Chairman Camp, Ranking Member Levin, and Congressional Advisors on Trade Policy and Negotiations:

In a statement to his Export Council on September 19, President Obama reiterated a call for Congress to limit its own oversight ability on trade agreements by approving fasttrack authority for the TransPacific Partnership.

We, the undersigned groups, urge you to reject that request and retain your Constitutional authority to seek fixes and amendments to this and other trade agreements.

The Trans Pacific Partnership, commonly known as the TPP, has been negotiated in near-total secrecy between a still-growing list of countries around the Pacific region.

Public interest groups have been routinely shut out of the negotiating venues, and our ability to present concerns to the negotiators have been largely symbolic, when permitted at all.

Since TPP trade delegates have kept all draft texts secret and have excluded public input from the process, our deep concerns about the agreement have been marginalized.

In particular, the chapter titled “Intellectual Property” — a draft of which was leaked to the public in February 2011 — appears to encourage the sort of speech restricting provisions that the public protested loudly when they appeared in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

Further, that chapter appears to include copyright enforcement rules that could prevent positive reforms to American law even as those laws remain far from fully settled.

As just one example: its anti-circumvention rules echo section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) — a section that has been the subject of vigorous debate, numerous legislative proposals, and White House criticism this year because of its effect on phone unlocking.

With Congress currently considering how this law should work for Americans, crystallizing such language in another trade agreement without any opportunity for debate, will only create more problems down the road.

The American public has a right to know the contents of the international agreements its government is crafting.

Corporations cannot be the only interests represented in this agreement, since they do not advocate for policies that safeguard or even represent the interests of the public at large.

Given the administration’s complete lack of transparency in negotiating the TPP, it is vitally important that democratically elected representatives are at least given the opportunity to conduct a review and push for fixes.

To that end, we request that you oppose any legislation that would renew fasttrack or trade promotion authority.

Agreements such as the TPP require transparency and input from all affected stakeholders, and a fasttrack process would not permit Congress to provide that essential feedback.

The stakes for user’s rights are too high, and the process has been too secretive, to allow the administration to enact an agreement without meaningful Congressional oversight.

US Business Coalition for the TPP

Coalition Members
Abbott Laboratories
ACE Group
Advanced Medical Technology Association
AFJ & Associates
Aflac International
American Apparel and Footwear
American Auto Council
American Chemistry Council
American Farm Bureau Federation
American Feed Industry Association
American Institute of Architects
American Insurance Association
American Meat Institute
American Soybeans Association
Applied Materials
Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM)
Baker McKenzie
Barnes Richardson
Biotech Industry Organization
Business RoundTable
CA Technologies
California Apple Commission
Cargill, Incorporated
Caterpillar Inc.
Conoco Phillips
Cotton Council International
Crop Life America
Denner Group International
Distilled Spirits Council of the United States
Dow Che
Exxon Mobil Corporation
Financial Services Forum
Florida Citrus Mutual (FCM)
FMI Corp.
Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America
Gap, Inc.
General Electric Company
General Motors Company
Global Prospects LLC
Goldman Sachs
Goldman Sachs
Grocery Manufacturers Association
Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA)
Hanesbrands Inc.
IBM Corporation
Idaho Potato Commission
Information Technology Industry Council
International Business-Government Counselors, Inc.
International Dairy Foods Association
International Development Systems
International Intellectual Property Alliance
Johnson & Johnson
Louis Dreyfus Commodities
Mars, Inc.
McLarty Associates
Meat Import Council of America (MICA)
Mondelēz International
Morgan Stanley
Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association
National Association of Manufacturers
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
National Center for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation
National Chicken Council
National Corn Growers Association
National Cotton Council
National Electrical Manufacturers Association
National Foreign Trade Council
National Milk Producers Federation
National Oilseed Processors Association (NOPA)
National Pork Producers Council (NPPC)
National Potato Council
National Retail Federation
National Trucking & Supply Chain Company
National Turkey Federation
News Corporation
Northwest Horticultural Council
Oracle Corporation
Outdoor Industry Association
Pet Food Institute
Pfizer, Inc.
Philip Morris International
Plastics Industry
Proctor & Gamble Company
Retail Industry Leaders Association
Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association
Semiconductor Equipment and Materials
International Software and Information Industry Association
Tech America
Telecommunications Industry Association
The Chubb Corporation
The Coca-Cola Company
The Entertainment Software Association
The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
The Software Alliance
The Walt Disney Company
The Washington Council on International Trade
The American Council of Life Insurers
Time Warner, Inc.
US Apple Association
US Grains Council
United Parcel Service (UPS)
United States Council for International Business
United Technologies
US-ASEAN Business Council
New Zealand Council
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Wasserman & Associates
WBC Global
World Trade Center San Diego
Xerox Corporation

US Business Coalition for the TPP
900 17thSt., N.W., Suite 1150, Washington, D.C. 20006
Phone 202.659.5147 Fax 202.659.1347