WASHINGTON – A broad coalition of conservative organizations is urging Congress to reject granting President Obama so-called “fast track” power to expedite the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, a NAFTA-like economic integration and global governance plan.
Conservative leaders speaking out against the power grab represent all three legs of the traditional Republican Party electoral stool: faith, national defense and limited government.
Speaking at a Capitol Hill press conference, Americans for Limited Government President Richard Manning called on Congress to “not cede any additional authority to a president who has spent the past six years shredding the constitutional separation of powers.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he is eager to give Obama fast track trade promotion authority, acknowledging, “It’s an enormous grant of power, obviously, from a Republican Congress to a Democratic president.”
Under fast track rules, Obama would be able to unilaterally negotiate and sign the TPP international agreement before showing it to Congress. Once he sends it to the Hill, congressional debate would be severely restricted and no amendments would be allowed.
“This president has shown outright contempt for the separation of powers enumerated in the U.S. Constitution,” said TheTeaParty.net leader Niger Innis. Ceding additional legislative powers to the executive branch would be “a monumental failure of congressional Republicans to understand the nature of the president’s fundamental transformation of America.
“There could be no worse lesson for this White House than for Congress to voluntarily cede additional authority to it,” he added.
But Rep. Paul Ryan, the new chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over fast track, or trade promotion authority, legislation, said, “The first thing we ought to do is pass trade promotion authority,” though he wouldn’t say exactly when his committee will move a bill.
Obama would use fast track trade promotion authority to expedite the TransPacific Partnership, or TPP. WND has reported that TPP grants special trade and investment privileges to nations that persecute Christians and practice Shariah.
This drew an outraged response from Sandy Rios, director of government affairs for the American Family Association. She pointed to the traditional role the United States has played in using its economic might to expand freedom around the world, saying, “Wisdom dictates that America must use all means at its disposal to resist religious persecution anywhere it is found through the power of our God-given treasure and resources. It is for this reason that American Family Association opposes passage of fast track legislation that negates Congress’ ability to change the Trans-Pacific Partnership to end religious oppression in Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia.”
Frank Gaffney, president and founder of the Center for Security Policy, raised objections to fast track on national security grounds.
“We know the people bringing us this deal have a record of serial malfeasance with respect to negotiations,” Gaffney said. “It would not only be the height of irresponsibility to essentially give the president a blank check, it would be something that makes the Congress complicit in the next bad deal if they give the president fast track authority.”
Glyn Wright, executive director of the Eagle Forum, presented remarks from conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly. She blasted Obama’s assumption of congressional power “with his pen and his phone” and the secrecy surrounding the TPP negotiations, saying, “Fast track just legitimizes what the president has already done once again behind Congress’ back.”
Manning agreed, calling the legislation “an ill-founded grant of trust to a president who has repeatedly shown that he has outright disdain for the legislative branch.”
Rather than being rushed into a vote, stripped of the ability to amend or make any changes to the agreement, Congress “should examine every aspect of any treaty that is presented to ensure that American interests are advanced,” he said.
McConnell has said repeatedly he is committed to deliberating legislation under regular order, which allows for unlimited debate and unlimited amendments. But “fast track” destroys regular order, strictly limiting hearings and debate on the TPP agreement. In addition, fast track bars any amendments and the requirement for a 60-vote cloture vote.
“Senator McConnell was for regular order before he was against it,” said Curtis Ellis of Obamatrade.com.
A group letter urging opposition to passage of fast track trade authority has been delivered to Congress, and American for Limited Government promised a robust effort to educate members of Congress and their constituents about the dangers of giving Obama yet more power. In addition to those at the press conference, others signing the group letter were Jenny Beth Martin, founder of Tea Party Patriots and Judson Philips of Tea Party Nation.
WND has reported extensively on the TPP, which has been described as the largest-ever economic treaty, encompassing 12 participating nations representing more than 40 percent of the world’s gross domestic product. It’s the frontrunner to the equally secret Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TIPP, between the U.S. and the European Union.
The White House, without much fanfare, wrapped Mexico and Canada into the TPP negotiations as a continuation of an effort regarded by critics as a move toward a European Union-style integration of North America, WND reported.