Senate Democrats deny ‘fast track’ authorities for Obama

Senate Democrats block bill giving President Obama ‘fast track’ authority to negotiate Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

US Senate Democrats blocked on Tuesday consideration of a bill that gives President Barack Obama "fast-track" authority to negotiate a 12-nation trade agreement known as Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Progressive democrats led the campaign against the bill resulting in a 52-45 vote effectively killing it as 60 votes were needed for the Senate to consider it.

“What we've just witnessed here is the Democratic Senate shut down the opportunity to debate the top economic priority of the Democratic President of the United States,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said.

The bill would give Obama so called "fast track" authority to negotiate the TPP trade agreement without the need of congressional approval for amendments.

Most of the Democratic senators pioneered by Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts oppose the bill claiming it would encourage businesses to move overseas where they would benefit from cheap labor and hurt middle class American workers.

“We cannot continue to run this country for the top 10 percent. We can't keep pushing through trade deals that benefit multinational companies at the expense of workers,” Warren has said speaking against the bill.

Democrats want pro-worker provisions added to the bill for them to support it.

In an unlikely alliance with Democratic President Obama, most of the Senate Republicans support the bill as they say it would benefit US by increasing free trade.

One of the few Republicans to oppose the bill is 2016 presidential hopeful Rand Paul (R-KY), who is known for his libertarian stance.

“While Senator Paul has always been a strong advocate of free trade, he is hesitant to give blanket authority on a trade agreement that has yet to be seen,” an aid of Paul said explaining the Senator’s position.

TPP aims to increase trade among 12 nations - the United States, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam - from around the Pacific by easing trade barriers.

If finalised, TPP will be the largest trade agreement since signing of the North Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994 by then President Bill Clinton.

TRTWorld and agencies