Senate Democrats reject fast track trade authority for Obama | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Senate Democrats reject fast track trade authority for Obama

Posted By on Tue, May 12, 2015 at 6:05 PM

Democrats in the Senate today blocked a bill to give President Obama trade promotional authority — also called "fast track" authority — despite pressure from the White House. The failure of the bill complicates Obama's push to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a landmark free trade deal. The vote was 52-45 (60 votes are needed to overcome the threat of a filibuster).

Fast track authority would have given the White House the ability to negotiate the terms of the TPP on its own. Almost every Democrat in the Senate voted against this key piece of Obama's economic agenda, while almost every Republican voted for concentrating more authority in the hands of Barack Hussein Obama. Such is the bizarro land that is trade policy.

Guess who voted with the president today? Arkansas Republicans John Boozman and, yes, Tom Cotton.

While Boozman had made it clear he'd vote for the TPP, Cotton had been more coy. He told the Democrat-Gazette in February that he'd like to see fast track authority limited so that "the president cannot impose additional labor or environmental standards in any free trade agreement" beyond the standards approved in other recent deals with Columbia, Panama and South Korea.

That's right: Cotton's only objection to giving the White House a freer hand in trade negotiations was that he was afraid the president might have ran with the chance to things better for workers or the environment. Evidently, Cotton then concluded that wasn't a serious threat after all, which only adds to my tentative conclusion that the TPP is indeed bad news.

What's the lesson here? Well, for those of us who've wondered if there are any limits to Republican animus towards the White House, the answer is, yes, and those limits are defined by the Chamber of Commerce. (Also, Obama's legislative priorities are heavily seasoned by corporate influences, but I think we already knew that.)

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