Click here to download this document as a pdf: Reasons to Vote No on Fast Track

Vote “No” on Fast Track Trade Authority

Article I Section 8 of the US Constitution:

The Congress shall have Power to regulate Commerce with foreign Nations

Under the U.S. Constitution, Congress is solely responsible for writing the laws and setting trade policy. For 200 years, this key check and balance on the president ensured that the executive branch did not hold too much unilateral power. But, over the last few decades, presidents have seized these congressional powers through Fast Track trade authority. Congress should refuse to grant this authority to the president to ensure trade represents the view of the people, not the interests of the president.

Fast Track is a dramatic shift in the balance of powers between the executive and legislative branch that turns the Congressional responsibility for trade on its head.  Fast Track weakens Congress in the following ways:

–       Allows the president to unilaterally select partner countries for trade pacts;

–       Allows the president to unilaterally negotiate the contents of trade agreements;

–       Allows the president to unilaterally sign complex trade agreements before Congress votes on them (NAFTA was 1,700 pages including appendices);

–       Allows the president to commit the United States to legislation that would conform with the trade agreement, such legislation can effect finance, healthcare, patents, food safety, agriculture, Internet, wages and labor conditions and environmental protection, energy, “Buy America” laws, land use and zoning, among others.

–       Commits the United States to be bound by decisions of international trade tribunals that can overrule laws passed by Congress and undermine US sovereignty;

–       Allows the president to limit the normal Congressional committee process by limiting or forbidding hearings, not allowing amendments or the drafting of laws by Congressional committees;

–       Allows the president to control the Congressional voting schedule and voting procedure, i.e. sets timetables for voting and does not allow amendments.

Hundreds of trade agreements have become law without Fast Track.  Only 16 trade agreements have needed Fast Track to become law. Fast Track has been used to pass the most controversial trade agreements like NAFTA and the World Trade Organization, which have had undesirable consequences.

“Negotiating Objectives” have been added to Fast Track but are not enforceable and have been ignored by previous presidents. In the case of the Trans-Pacific Partnership there have already been more than three years of negotiations, including 19 rounds, so “Negotiating Objectives” are mere window dressing and will not alter the content of the TPP.

As a candidate, President Obama said he would replace this anti-democratic process, but as president he now seeks Fast Track.

Fast Track allows an unpopular trade law to be passed without adequate checks and balances, but Members of Congress will be held responsible by voters when these agreements become law and undermine the economy and public health and safety.

More:, email: [email protected], phone: 202-688-2444

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