Emanuel blocks debate on trade deal

This blog originally appeared on Working For Change

Breaking news out of Washington today, five days after a handful of senior Democrats and the Bush administration announced a secret deal to push a package of free trade pacts just months after Democrats successfully used opposition to lobbyist-written trade deals to win the 2006 election. According to sources on Capitol Hill today, after the six Democrats followed Democratic Caucus rules and filed a formal letter to Emanuel requesting a caucus meeting. That request, according to the Hill Newspaper , was "rebuffed" and hours after the letter was sent, Democratic leaders appeared at a press conference to announce the secret trade deal with the Bush administration. The legislative language of the deal has still not been released either to reporters or to rank-and-file lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Meanwhile, industry newsletter Inside U.S. Trade this afternoon reports that House Ways and Means Ranking Member Jim McCrery (R-LA) "said it is his preference and that of U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab that the new obligations for free trade agreements announced last week not lead to a reopening of the Peru free trade agreement." This follow's McCrery's claim yesterday that the secret deal can be completed "in a way that does not require Peru's political system to revisit the deal all over again."

In laymans terms, the enforceability of the promised labor and environmental provisions hinge on the Peru and Panama free trade agreements being reopened so that their texts can be modified. As NAFTA has shown, so-called "side agreements" that are not written into the text of the actual trade texts have proven entirely unenforceable because they are not part of the core agreement. If the Peru and Panama deals are not, in fact, going to be reopened and renegotiated, then the highly touted promises of adding enforceable labor and environmental provisions to the core texts of trade agreements appear to be in question.

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