Democrats Fold on Shady Trans-Pacific Partnership Deal

Labor

Less than a day after blocking the Obama administration's path to a secretive trade deal, Senate Democrats have accepted an offer put forth by Republicans. The Democrats, led by Senator Ron Wyden and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, came to accept the deal after personal lobbying from President Obama.


Some Democrats believed that a package of four trade bills would move along together, thus ensuring that Obama couldn't obtain fast-track authority without enforcement measures, but they ended up backing down on this as well. A Huffington Post story quotes Senator Sherrod Brown justifying the decision: "I understand that all four aren't going to be together exactly the way I want it, I understand that, but I can read votes. I also think that nobody saw us being successful yesterday three days out. And people have strong feelings about the customs enforcement and people have strong feelings about taking care of workers."

The new deal would allow the administration to begin negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade deal which has been criticized by labor unions and environmental activists. The economist Joseph Stiglitz recently wrote that, "These agreements go well beyond trade, governing investment and intellectual property as well, imposing fundamental changes to countries’ legal, judicial, and regulatory frameworks, without input or accountability through democratic institutions."

The Senate will vote on two of the trade bills tomorrow at noon.

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