Now That The House Has Passed Fast Track, Here’s What’s Next

Dave Johnson Fellow, Campaign for America's Future

When Wall Street and the giant corporations want something from Congress, Congress finds a way to give it to them. With only a few hours notice, the House of Representatives snuck in another fast track vote, and it passed 218-208. The bill now must return to the Senate.

During the pre-vote discussion, Rep. Paul Ryan gave a speech claiming that we need fast track to restore America’s credibility “after the foreign policy failures of the last few years.” Twenty-eight Democrats agreed and voted to pass fast track, preapproving the still-secret Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and future trade bills.

This time there was no trade adjustment assistance (TAA) bill accompanying the fast track bill. TAA would provide minimal assistance and retraining for some of the workers who will be directly laid off as a result of the offshoring that is encouraged by TPP. For example, New Balance will likely be forced to cease manufacturing shoes in the U.S. as Nike is being rewarded for its offshoring business model with tariff cuts on shoes imported from Vietnam. The 28 Democrats who voted for fast track apparently agreed that TAA is not needed.

The 28 “corporate Democrats” were the same 28 who previously voted to pass Fast Track. For the benefit of your long-memory list, they are:

Brad Ashford (Neb.-2nd District)
Ami Bera (Calif.-7th District)
Don Beyer (Va.-8th District)
Earl Blumenauer (Ore.-3rd District)
Suzanne Bonamici (Ore.-1st District)
Gerry Connolly (Va.-11th District)
Jim Cooper (Tenn.-5th District)
Jim Costa (Calif.-16th District)
Henry Cuellar (Texas-28th District)
Susan Davis (Calif.-53rd District)
John Delaney (Md.-6th District)
Suzan DelBene (Wash.-1st District)
Sam Farr (Calif.-20th District)
Jim Himes (Conn.-4th District)
Ruben Hinojosa (Texas-15th District)
Eddie B. Johnson (Texas-30th District)
Derek Kilmer (Wash.-6th District)
Ron Kind (Wis.-3rd District)
Rick Larsen (Wash.-2nd District)
Gregory Meeks (N.Y.-5th District)
Beto O’Rourke (Texas-16th District)
Scott Peters (Calif.-52nd District)
Jared Polis (Colo.-2nd District)
Mike Quigley (Ill.-5th District)
Kathleen Rice (N.Y.-4th District)
Kurt Schrader (Ore.-5th District)
Terri Sewell (Ala.-7th District)
Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.-23rd District)

How Coalition Members Are Reacting

Jason Stanford of the Coalition to Stop Fast Track says “fast track is still off track”:

“Today the House resorted to another desperate ploy to punt the fast track problem back to the Senate in hopes that they can solve it. Fast track is still the same bad deal for American workers it was before and is now collapsing under a flawed strategy based on empty promises. Fast track is still off track.”

Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, says the fight continues:

“We are at the end of the second quarter and the score is tied 1-1. We look forward to the third and fourth quarters. Workers’ resolve is firmer than ever. We will fight at every level and in every way to protect American workers and our economy by rejecting Fast Track and this corporate trade deal.”

Lori Wallach, Director, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, on the legislative jockeying ahead:

Today, the House employed yet another procedural gimmick to punt the Fast Track problem back to the Senate, where its fate remains at best unclear as Americans’ concerns that more of the same trade policy would kill more jobs and push down our wages remain unaddressed.

Because Republican House members would not support the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) part of the Senate-passed Fast Track package last week, the GOP leadership today had to resort to a Fast Track-only vote, but what exactly that achieves is unclear. Senate Democrats, including those needed to obtain cloture for a stand-alone Fast Track bill, are demanding that the TAA be reinserted into the Fast Track bill or be passed by both chambers before agreeing to support Fast Track. In addition, key Democratic senators are insisting on the fulfillment by Senate Leader Mitch McConnell of a promised vote to reauthorize the Export-Import bank – which was the condition for the deciding bloc of Senate Democrats to support cloture on Fast Track in the first instance in May. Meanwhile, House GOP lawmakers remain strongly opposed to TAA and Ex-Im reauthorization. As House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi stated today, there is no clear path for enactment of TAA. Yet yesterday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that President Obama requires both Fast Track and TAA to come to his desk.

Justin Krebs, campaign director for Civic Action, says the vote only shows “the movement to stop Fast Track has grown louder and stronger”:

“Speaker Boehner’s do-over vote was proof of what this whole deal is really about. This isn’t about supporting workers—it’s about advancing a corporate agenda. Republicans have revealed their commitment to undercutting protections for workers, consumers, and the environment. And the decision by the handful of Democrats who went along with them—to side with corporate interests over the rest of us—will be remembered by their constituents next election.

“Now, the action returns to the Senate—where we look forward to working with progressive champions including Senators Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown, Bernie Sanders, and others—to stop Fast Track once and for all. This bill is only returning to the Senate because the movement to stop Fast Track has grown louder and stronger—and will continue to build in the days to come.”

Michael Stumo, CEO of Coalition for a Prosperous America, predicts tough going in the Senate:

“Pro-trade deficit legislators achieved a close house vote for ‘Fast Track’ trade authority today. Because the prior Senate bill on Fast Track was not approved, this new bill must now go to the Senate for approval. We expect passage in the Senate to be much more difficult because of issues surrounding Trade Adjustment Assistance and the Export Import Bank.”

Jim Dean, Chair of Democracy for America, reaffirms that Democratic fast-track supporters will be “left to rot” in 2016:

“Thanks to House Republicans and a handful of turncoat Democrats, the army of corporate execs and industry lobbyists who wrote the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership will now have an easier time shoving it down the throats of an American public that’s broadly opposed to more NAFTA-style trade deals.

“While we will continue to work to defeat fast-track for the job-killing TPP in the U.S. Senate, we will never forget which House Democrats stood with American working families against Fast Track and who sold them out.

“Democrats who allowed the passage of Fast Track Authority for the job-killing TPP, should know that we will not lift a finger or raise a penny to protect you when you’re attacked in 2016, we will encourage our progressive allies to join us in leaving you to rot, and we will actively search for opportunities to primary you with a real Democrat.

“Those primaries could happen next year or they could happen in election cycles to come, but, make no mistake, we will make certain that your vote to fast track the destruction of American jobs will be remembered and will haunt you for years to come.”


This has been reposted from the Campaign for America's Future.

Johnson also is a fellow at the Commonwealth Institute and a Senior Fellow at the Institute for the Renewal of the California Dream. Follow Dave Johnson on Twitter: