Today, U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest, publicly released a letter he had sent to President Obama on June 5, demanding answers to questions he had asked in a similar letter a month earlier, as well as requesting information about the new global governance structure to be created under the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) treaty. Senator Sessions has been one of the leading Republican voices in Congress opposing not only President Obama, but also the leadership of his own party, with regard to the radical ObamaTrade agenda. (See: "GOP Senators Isakson and Sessions Duel Over TPP 'Trade' Scheme.")
“On May 6th of this year, I sent you a letter (enclosed) regarding your request for Congress to grant you fast-track executive authority,” Senator Sessions reminds in his new letter to President Obama. “Under fast-track, Congress transfers its authority to the executive and agrees to give up several of its most basic powers. These concessions include: the power to write legislation, the power to amend legislation, the power to fully consider legislation on the floor, the power to keep debate open until Senate cloture is invoked, and the constitutional requirement that treaties receive a two-thirds vote.”
This latter point is especially important, the senator notes, “since, having been to the closed room to review the secret text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, it is clear it more closely resembles a treaty than a trade deal. In other words, through fast-track, Congress would be pre-clearing a political and economic union before a word of that arrangement has been made available to a single private citizen.”
The senator’s May 6 letter, to which Obama has not replied, asked several fundamental questions that Sessions says, “Congress ought to have answered before even considering whether to grant the executive such broad new powers.”
Nevertheless, when the GOP-led Senate voted 62-37 on May 22 to pass TPA, only four other Republican senators joined Senator Sessions to break ranks with the Obama-aligned Republican leadership by voting nay — Susan Collins (Maine), Mike Lee (Utah), Rand Paul (Ky.), and Richard C. Shelby (Ala.). The full Senate roll call for the May 22 vote on Trade Promotion Authority (“Fast Track”) can be viewed here.
New EU-style TPP “Governance Commission”
In his June 5 missive to Obama, Sessions reminds the president of his earlier unacknowledged requests: “I asked that you make public the section of the TPP that creates a new transnational governance structure known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership Commission. The details of this new governance commission are extremely broad and have the hallmarks of a nascent European Union, with many similarities.”
Senator Sessions’ latest letter underscores one of the most offensive aspects of the TPP (and its sister agreements, the TTIP and TISA): the secrecy with which they are being negotiated and the withholding of the documents from the American public and elected members of Congress, whose constitutional duty it is to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and, more importantly, to protect our constitutional Republic from threats such as those posed by TPP/TTIP/TISA.
Open-ended “Living Agreement”
“Reviewing the secret text, plus the secret guidance document that accompanies it,” says Sessions, “reveals that this new transnational commission — chartered with a ‘Living Agreement’ clause — would have the authority to amend the agreement after its adoption, to add new members, and to issue regulations impacting labor, immigration, environmental, and commercial policy. Under this new commission, the Sultan of Brunei would have an equal vote to that of the United States.”
President Obama and his Republican allies never tire of making appeals to, and boasts of commitment to, transparency and openness. Senator Sessions is trying to hold their feet to the fire on this matter, with a straightforward appeal to bring the TPP out of the shadows and into the light — rather than trying to slam it through Congress on Fast Track, before Congress and the American people can thoroughly examine and debate it.
“The implications of this new Pacific Union are extraordinary and ought to be discussed in full, in public,” Sessions wrote, “before Congress even contemplates fast-tracking its creation and pre-surrendering its power to apply the constitutional two-thirds treaty vote. In effect, to adopt fast-track is to agree to remove the constitutional protections against the creation of global governance structures before those structures are even made public.”
What Law Justifies This Secrecy?
Senator Sessions concludes his letter by challenging President Obama to “provide to me the legal and constitutional basis for keeping this information from the public and explain why I cannot share the details of what I have read with the American people. Congress should not even consider fast-tracking the transfer of sovereign power to a transnational structure before the details of that new structure are made fully available for public review.”
Will Senator Sessions — and, perhaps, other members of Congress, too — summon the courage to make good on their oaths of office and defy the outrageous and unconstitutional secrecy that has been clamped on the subversive TPP/TTIP/TISA process? Does even one member of Congress have the mettle to dare being arrested for the “crime” of telling his constituents what schemes are being devised behind closed doors by government officials and powerful special interests? Does even one member of Congress have the fortitude to call Obama’s hand on this issue, and to stand against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner on this existential threat to our sovereignty and our liberty? The many dangers we already know about in these pseudo-free trade agreements have been revealed almost completely through unauthorized leaks. Perhaps with sufficient urging, some Senator or Representative (or a group of the same) will step up to the plate and directly challenge this new form of secret oligarchical rule by boldly revealing what is in the “trade agreements” that we, the American people, are not supposed to see.