As widely reported today, the TPPA has taken a probably fatal hit in the US Senate. As ever, thanks to Gordon Campbell for excellent coverage:
Gordon Campbell on the death knell for the TPP
It is unusual for anyone to vote for an early execution, but that’s effectively what President Barack Obama’s friends in the US Senate have just done by bringing forward a procedural vote related to the Trans Pacific Partnership. If all had gone well in Washington this morning, this so-called “cloture” motion would have stopped the TPP’s opponents from stalling and stone-walling, and would have enabled a Senate vote ( before the Senate rises on May 22 ) on whether to give Obama the “ fast track “ Trade Promotion Authority he needs to pass the TPP intact, and not expose it to the slow death of clause-by -clause votes and amendments put up by every legislator in Washington with an axe to grind.
Well, the White House gamble has failed, spectacularly. Obama not only failed to rally the 60 votes he needed to achieve cloture, he fell short by a wide margin. Only 52 Senators voted for it. Sure, the cloture vote was only a curtain –raiser. It was a vote on whether to talk about a TPA vote, rather than a vote on TPA itself. Yet it was supposed to flush out a bloc of Democrats who are (a) in favour of granting TPA powers and ( b) in favour of the TPP itself. It was supposed to generate momentum in the Senate, which has always been seen as the easier hurdle for Obama to clear on TPA, at least in comparison to convincing the House to bestow such powers. The reverse has happened. The TPA/TPP campaign has fallen at its very first, easiest hurdle.
Long time expert and opponent Prof Jane Kelsey:
US Senate Vote Dooms Fast Track for Now, and Potentially the TPPA
‘The future of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) is now in doubt, following President Obama’s failure to secure Senate support to advance Fast Track authority to a full debate and vote in Congress’, according to Auckland University Professor Jane Kelsey, who monitors the negotiations.
‘Time was running out with TPPA ministers due to meet in Guam from 26 to 28 May where they hoped to close the deal’, Professor Kelsey said. A number of countries, notably Japan, have said they will not make any final commitments unless the US President has Fast Track authority.
Obama needed 60 votes in the Senate to progress the Bill to its next stage, but could only secure 52. His own party deserted him, including senior Democrats. … There is even less support for Fast Track in the House of Representatives, which suggests the measure is doomed for now.
I for one hope that the setback proves terminal for the TPPA. I’m not opposed to trade agreements in general, but (1) the terms of this one were being dictated by big business and kept secret from voters, (2) the sections that were leaked looked bad for NZ, and (3) I had no faith in our current government to negotiate effectively. So, if the TPPA is dead, good riddance.