Obama Loses Senate Vote on TPP(A)

tppa protest

Wellington anti-TPPA protest Nov 2014

Yet another victory for our side. The tide seems to be turning against corporate America.

Today the Guardian reported that Tuesday’s 52-45 senate vote shut down further discussion of the Transpacific Partnership Agreement. Owing to the threat of filibuster, this procedural vote required at least 60 “ayes” in order to let the Senate host discussions on whether or not to give the president “fast track” authority.* Failure to reach that threshold puts the future of the TPP(A) in jeopardy.

The proposal was defeated by Democrats wanting to add measures to protect US workers and prevent currency manipulation.

Most analysts agree that the eleven other countries negotiating TPP(A) are unlikely to agree to the treaty unless they know the US Senate will approve it without modification.

Many also believe the setback spells an end to any chance the US will sign up to the TPP(A) before the next US presidential election in late-2016.

According to the Guardian, TPPA opponents have been emboldened by the growing influence of liberal senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders and were joined by all but one Senate Democrat in voting against moving forward with TPP.

Only one Democrat, Senator Tom Carper of Delaware, backed the measure. Pro-trade Oregon Senator Ron Wyden, who championed the fast track measure in committee, changed his vote to “no.” He’s insisting that fast track be bundled together with three other trade bills, including one that would impose import duties on countries that manipulate their currencies for unfair trade advantage.

TPP is a secret treaty being negotiated behind closed doors without input from the public or elected representatives. Documents released by Wikileaks in March revealed the TPP(A) has a clause known as Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS). It means if local or national governments enact legislation for greater environmental protections, health regulations or rules to assist local businesses – anything that interferes with foreign corporations’ profits – the corporations can sue them in secret tribunals run by corporate lawyers.

Here in New Zealand, we are especially concerned about a clause in the leaked text that would allow pharmaceutical companies to sue us for using generic drugs (in preference to brand named drugs) in our National Health Service. We’re also concerned the TPP(A) would enable Monsanto to sue us over laws that prohibit farmers from planting GMO crops.

Besides the US and New Zealand, the other 10 countries involved in TPP(A) negotiations are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico Peru, Singapore, the and Vietnam.

Read more here


*With “fast track” authority, the Senate would be forced to vote a bill approving TPP(A) up or down without amending it.