June 5, 2015

Two Members of Boehner’s Leadership Team Openly Refuse to Admit if They’ve Read Obamatrade

Two members of House GOP leadership—Majority Whip Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA)  and Rules Committee chairman Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) —refused to admit through spokespersons to Breitbart News whether they have read the text of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Pacific Rim trade deal, but they still support granting President Barack Obama the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) to fast track it. What’s more, Scalise and Sessions—and others GOP conference-wide, including even perhaps Boehner—could be vulnerable to serious primary challenges if they continue forward with Obamatrade.

Jill Shatzen, a spokeswoman for Sessions, said in an email:

Chairman Sessions has been a strong proponent of TPA in order to ensure the Congress has a major role in overseeing trade deals and ensuring they are representative of what the American people want.Because negotiations on TPP are not complete, the full agreement is not yet available for review by members. However, when it is complete, TPA ensures that all members and the public have 60 days to review the final agreement before Congress acts. The Chairman looks forward to reviewing the final agreement at that time.

That was in response to Breitbart News asking if Sessions had been to the secret room inside the Capitol to read the text of TPP, and if he’d support TPA without reading TPP. The argument Sessions’ office is making—one that’s been echoed by others in leadership, like Scalise’s team and by chief Obamatrade proponent House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) 

—is that TPA is separate from TPP. While they’re technically correct in asserting that TPA is different from the specific TPP, there is essentially no way to stop a trade deal once it has been fast-tracked. Since fast track was created in the Richard Nixon administration, not one trade deal that started on fast track has been thwarted. As such, a vote for TPA is a vote for TPP, since passing TPA will all but guarantee the successful passage of TPP.

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