The following letter was sent to Rep. Richard Neal (MA01) by the Great Barrington Democratic Town Committee, a local democratic party committee in his district, in opposition to Fast Track.
Great Barrington Democratic Town Committee
March 9, 2015
Congressman Richard Neal
341 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Congressman Neal:
The Great Barrington Democratic Town Committee asks you to oppose Trade Promotion Authority “Fast Track” procedures for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement.
We urge you to join 151 other House Democrats (including most members of the Massachusetts delegation and 18 full-committee ranking members) in signing the DeLauro-Miller Letter to President Obama. This letter objects to Fast Track and defends the Constitutional powers in Article I, Section 8 giving Congress exclusive authority “to regulate commerce with foreign nations” and explains:
“…opportunity for input from Congress is critical as the TPP FTA will include binding obligations that touch upon a wide swath of policy matters under the authority of Congress. Beyond traditional tariff issues, these include policies related to labor, patent and copyright, land use, food, agriculture and product standards, natural resources, the environment, professional licensing, competition, state-owned enterprises and government procurement policies, as well as financial, healthcare, energy, e-commerce, telecommunications and other service sector regulations.”
Senator Elizabeth Warren recently alerted us to “The Trans-Pacific Partnership clause everyone should oppose.” In her Washington Post op-ed, she strongly opposes the provisions for Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), “an international tribunal of private attorneys outside any nation’s legal system that can order compensation for lost expect profits resulting from a nation’s regulations, including our own. These extraordinary rights for corporations put governments on the defensive over legitimate public health or environmental rules…it would undermine U.S. sovereignty.” Senator Warren and Senator Markey sent a letter to US Trade Representative Michael Froman expressing concern that the TPP “could make it harder for Congress and regulatory agencies to prevent future financial crises.”
With only five of the 29 sections of the TPP concerning trade and the others focusing on intellectual property, other experts and groups have urged changes to the TPP. For example:
Nobel-Prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz decries how extension of pharmaceutical patents will raise the cost of prescription drugs. Doctors Without Borders stresses how such measures will undermine their access to generic drugs vital for treating HIV/AIDS and other infectious diseases.
The Sierra Club warns the TPP “would strip our government of its ability to manage exports of natural gas, opening the floodgates to more fracking here…to satisfy foreign markets like Japan.”
The Electronic Frontier Foundation warns that the TPP poses massive threats to internet users.
The Berkshire Eagle reported that you wanted to be in the room negotiating the trade agreement. In order to have a voice in the actual provisions of the TPP, you need to vote against Fast Track, because it bans any amendments to the TPP, limits debate, and bypasses regular House and Senate process. It would empower whoever is president over the next 8 years to unilaterally determine future trade agreements, without giving Congress a voice. Given these concerns, we urge you to assure us that you will vote against the Fast Track procedure and encourage Congress to fully examine and amend the TPP.