Reid Not Planning a Vote on Fast Track in Senate, Hoyer Not Optimistic Trade Bill Will Pass This Year, Sees Bipartisan Opposition
Anti-Fast Track mobilization to be extended after more than half a million people take action
Today, a diverse network of organizations opposing Fast Track legislation announced they are extending their 10 days of activism following massive and widespread public action. Since its inception on January 22nd, more than 100 new groups have joined the effort at StopFastTrack.com, including Coalition for a Prosperous America, Ben & Jerry’s, Free Software Foundation, SumOfUs, Democracy for America, Friends of the Earth, Namecheap, and CREDO — adding to an already impressive, and unlikely, list of groups like reddit, Sierra Club, AFL-CIO, MoveOn, LabelGMOs, and Fight for the Future.
The social-media-fueled campaign has been embraced by more than 120 organizations and coincided with more than 50 rallies and teach-ins across the U.S., Canada and Mexico last week alone. Nearly 600,000 people have signed petitions or sent emails to lawmakers, and members of Congress have already received more than 40,000 phone calls from constituents who oppose Fast Track. A simultaneous social media push known as a Thunderclap reached 5.4 million users and received support from actor Mark Ruffalo, author Cory Doctorow, and tech celebrity Tim O’Reilly.
“When we launched this effort about ten days ago, we had 20 groups participating — now we have 120,” said Evan Greer, campaign manager at Fight for the Future, the Internet freedom group that helped initiate the StopFastTrack.com effort. “It’s time for those in power to read the writing on the wall; people from across the political spectrum overwhelmingly oppose anti-democratic Fast Track legislation, and we won’t allow decisions that affect all of us to be made behind closed doors.”
Last week a nationwide, bipartisan poll found that voters oppose fast track authority by more than 2-1. The poll also found that members of Congress who vote to approve Fast Track — especially Republicans — are taking a political risk.
The massive mobilization from Fast Track opponents has clearly made an impact in Washington, with Senate Majority leader Harry Reid coming out in opposition to Fast Track and the number two ranking Democrat in the House, Rep. Steny Hoyer saying he is “not optimistic” about passage of a trade bill this year and noted there was bipartisan opposition in the House of Representatives. Organizers caution that the fight is not over and plan a public petition delivery in the coming weeks to increase pressure on Congress to oppose the Fast Track bill.
“The only way we’re going to stop the secret corporate power grab known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership is if we stop Fast Track. That’s why we’re proud to stand with the scores of other organizations who are engaged in this fight,” said Becky Bond, Political Director of CREDO. “When so many organizations with diverse backgrounds and concerns stand together, it sends a powerful message. If you think the American people will allow Congress to abdicate its responsibility by passing Fast Track, prepare to be disappointed.”
Michael Stumo, CEO of the Coalition for a Prosperous America, stated: “Our members oppose giving President Obama even more executive authority through Fast Track. We need a new trade agenda to balance trade and to prevent further outsourcing our sovereignty to international institutions. We will be watching Tea Party caucus members to make sure they do not favor these global government agreements.”
David Cascino, CEO of Thunderclap, stated: “Now that people can rapidly organize around social media, phone call campaigns and targeted emails, it’s getting increasingly difficult for politicians to make decisions behind closed doors.”
Steve Anderson, Executive Director of OpenMedia.org said: “We know that the TPP will make the Internet more expensive, censored, and policed. That’s why hundreds of thousands are speaking out to stop it being rammed through Congress without a debate. It’s never been more important to pick up the phone and tell your Member of Congress to stop Fast Tracking a deal that would criminalize your online activity, invade your privacy, and cost you money.”\
“The breadth of opposition to Fast Tracking the TPP in any form whatsoever shows that the people will not be fooled by rigged corporate trade agreements. The TPP is so bad that it unites people in vehement opposition — entire cities and towns are already saying that they will not obey laws passed in secret that will harm them. If Congress moves forward on Fast Track, we expect growing resistance that will include disruption of re-election campaigns.” said Dr. Margaret Flowers of PopularResistance.org, an outgrowth of the Occupy Movement.
“Rainforest Action Network seeks to challenge corporate power where it undermines the interests of people and planet,” said Lindsey Allen, executive director of Rainforest Action Network (RAN).”The TPP is a profit-driven frontal assault on democracy and issues core to RAN’s work and in a time where we need every tool necessary to address global climate disruption, it is unacceptable to use an undemocratic shortcut like Fast Track to force through the TPP and usurp the interests of millions.”
Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen said, “Voters across the political spectrum are energized. They know this deal affects everybody – small business, workers, anyone who cares about about the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the jobs we hold. Americans are asking what kind of future do we want? We don’t want a trillion-dollar trade deficit. We need to reset our trade policy, so that it works for everyone, not just big corporations.”
“The Obama administration’s plan to ram two potentially devastating international trade agreements through Congress appears to be slowing down thanks to widespread opposition, but we’re not taking any chances,” said Ronnie Cummins International Director of the Organic Consumers Association. ”We must stop trade deals that would weaken U.S. and world food safety standards, threaten domestic and international food sovereignty laws, and allow transnational corporations to sue governments for alleged future lost profits unless the corporations are allowed to freely peddle their unproven, unsafe goods with reckless regard for existing food safety laws.”
Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, said, “The widespread interest in “Fast Track” from across the political spectrum is no surprise. It’s only more evidence of what America’s workers have known for a long time: America’s workforce deserves better than warmed over trade deals, which will do nothing to raise wages or reduce our $540 billion trade deficit. The United States is long overdue for an overhaul of its trade priorities and trade practices and that can only happen with an inclusive process that includes all our voices, not just the disproportionate influence of the 1%.”
“With TPP, special interests are gunning for draconian copyright rules that would entrench Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) and chill the development of the free “as-in-freedom” software we need,” said John Sullivan, Executive Director of the Free Software Foundation, “We’re inspired to be part of such a diverse outcry against the Fast Track. It’s clear that people see the damage that TPP’s restrictions would do to freedom and culture.”
“Fast Track authority takes democratic process away from our elected representatives, striking any discussion or debate on trade agreements in Congress, for example, on the upcoming Trans-Pacific Partnership,” says Carleen Pickard, Executive Director of Global Exchange. “Fast Tracking” such an agreement without substantive discussion about it’s impacts is a bad idea”.
“Imports increased three times faster than exports since NAFTA took effect, and our trade deficit is devastating to American workers,” said Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa. “Congress should read every word of these so-called ‘free-trade deals’ to make sure they help American families and to get rid of special deals inserted by corporate lobbyists.
Elizabeth Warren, MoveOn National TPP Team Coordinator said, “MoveOn’s TPP team is committed to fighting Fast Track in Congress. While we long for good news, and it is tempting to be reassured by Senator Reid’s comments, we need to differentiate between rhetoric and action. His statements could be the opening salvo in a debate over Democratic amendments to the Baucus bill, or he could be setting the stage for an alternate version of Fast Track – traveling under an assumed name – to be sponsored by Ron Wyden, for example. We must remain focused, and continue pressuring House members until a wide majority unequivocally oppose it – on the record – in ANY form.
“Across the country, Sierra Club members and supporters are ready to stand up for responsible trade that doesn’t threaten American jobs, our air and water, and our climate,” said Michael Brune, Sierra Club executive director. “The Sierra Club strongly opposes fast track. This bill not only undermines our democracy, it puts American families and our future at risk.”
Fast Track Opponents Rally Support, Bill Maudlin, Wall Street Journal
Reid Shunts TPP Onto the Slow Track, Alexander Bolton and Vicki Needham, The Hill
Hoyer ‘Not Optimistic’ About Trade Bills, Mike Lillis , The Hill
Tea Party Teams with Union Leaders to Fight Obama’s Trade Plan, Alexander Bolton, The Hill
Is the TPP Dead? Have We Won? Dennis Trainor, Jr. interview with Kevin Zeese