June 10, 2015
A “fast track” U.S. House bill to cede Congressional constitutional authority over trade legislation to the President could happen Thursday.
The bill would allow the President to send future “free trade” bills to Congress for a yes or no vote, with no amendments and debate limited to 20 hours.
NAFTA, The World Trade Organization (WTO), CAFTA and similar 2011 trade deals in Panama, North Korea and Columbia also passed under “fast track” authority. It has since expired.
CAFTA passed by 2 votes. Miller’s was one of them.
Miller also voted “YES” to the three 2011 pacts.
The upcoming “fast track” vote is expected to be close.
Miller still won’t comment on whether he plans to support it.
The Panhandle Politico has asked Mr. Miller’s office numerous times about both fast track and TPP, the most recent on June 3 (questions below).
He told a Milton Tea Party group, November 11 of last year, that he’s a free trade supporter, but did not elaborate on his Fast Track vote.
The U.S. has been participating in secret “free trade” Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations since 2008. Other participants include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam.
Obama has been criticized for negotiating with Malaysia despite documented evidence of a widespread slave trade.
TPP talks are closed to the public, press and members of Congress. After an outcry over the secrecy, President Obama recently allowed elected officials to view lengthy trade documents in a guarded room. They may not take photos, notes or bring expert advisors along. It’s not clear if the documents that were made available reflect current information.
Leaks suggest the TPP agreement contains Investor State Lawsuit provisions. Those provisions allow foreign corporations to sue (in secret, extrajudicial tribunals) American local governments for “lost future revenues” they allege are caused by local government policy. NAFTA, CAFTA and other past agreements contained Investor State provisions.
The WTO recently ordered the United States to get rid of Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) regulations on meat.
Many TPP signatories are Southeast Asian nations, home to a major shrimp industry.
If TPP passes, products like “unsanitary shrimp from Vietnam” may start appearing in American grocery stores unlabeled, watchdog group Public Citizen warns.
“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration currently inspects less than one percent of all seafood imports for health hazards. Even with these minimal inspections, high levels of fecal contamination have been found in imported shrimp,” a Public Citizen press release notes.
“These unsafe imports would skyrocket under the TPP and further overwhelm inspectors’ limited ability to ensure the safety of our food.”
America’s trade deficit with South Korea has more than doubled, to $14 billion, since the Korea pact was signed, according to U.S. Census figures released May 5, as reported by Public Citizen. Exports to Korea decreased 6 percent ($2.7 billion) while imports increased 19 percent ($11.3 billion) in three years.
“The trade deficit increase equates to the loss of more than 93,000 American jobs in the first three years of the Korea FTA, counting both exports and imports, according to the trade-jobs ratio that the Obama administration used to project gains from the deal,” according to Public Citizen.
Fast Track would also apply to a separate, U.S.-Europe deal called the Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA). TAFTA is also called the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
On June 3, the Panhandle Politico, again, emailed Miller’s office with the following questions:
“NAFTA was passed with “fast track” Presidential approval voted in by Congress. President Obama is seeking the same for TPP. Is Rep. Miller in favor of giving President Obama “fast track” authority?
Congress and the public have not been allowed to read or debate the content of ongoing TPP negotiations, except in a guarded room with no opportunity to take photos, notes or bring in experts. Leaks suggest the agreement contains Investor State Lawsuit provisions. Those provisions allow foreign nations to sue (in secret, extrajudicial tribunals) American local governments for “lost future revenues” they allege are caused by local government policy. NAFTA, CAFTA and other past agreements contained Investor State provisions. Is Rep. Miller concerned about President Obama’s efforts to pass far-reaching trade legislation with limited public disclosure and debate over its content?
Would Rep. Miller comment about concerns Investor State Lawsuit provisions will compromise the sovereignty of the American people?
NAFTA, CAFTA and the Korean Free Trade agreement were all followed by a steep loss in American jobs to offshoring. Is Rep. Miller concerned more jobs may be lost from TPP?
Is Rep. Miller planning to run for the U.S. Senate?”
Reach Congressman Miller at 850-479-1183.
Update: Article modified to reflect that investor state lawsuits involve foreign corporations suing American governments.