Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Sanders halts consideration of fast track bill

Teamsters participated in a fast track protest on Capitol Hill this morning.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today shut down a Senate Finance Committee mark up of fast track trade promotion legislation when he used an obscure Senate scheduling rule to temporarily halt consideration of the bill.

In a statement, the pro-union, pro-worker lawmaker said it was imperative to slow the process down instead of jamming it through Congress as quickly as possible:

This job-killing trade deal has been negotiated in secret. It was drafted with input by special interests and corporate lobbyists but not from the elected representatives of the American people. Instead of rubber stamping the agreement, Congress and the public deserve a fair chance to learn what’s in the proposal

Even before Sanders took his deliberate stand to postpone consideration of the measure, protesters were on hand to make their voices heard. Fair trade backers spoke out in the hearing room. And outside the Dirksen Senate Office Building, the Teamsters joined other anti-fast track demonstrators in letting the public know that the trade vehicle would allow secret deals to sail through Congress with little oversight and result in lost jobs. Some were dressed as the "TPP Express," simulating a trade train that would bring corporate injustice and sweatshop conditions to the nations involved in the Pacific Rim trade deal.

The hearing resumed late this afternoon. In opening statements, many lawmakers made clear they were choosing to ignore the history of lost U.S. jobs caused by so-called "free" trade deals and would vote to approve fast track. The debate will move to the House side tomorrow, where the Ways and Means Committee will consider the legislation.