Citing corruption, “backroom deal-making,” and leaks that show the Obama administration is violating its assurances not to include immigration in its trade agreements, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas; shown on left) reversed his earlier support for Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and voted Tuesday against the cloture measure to end debate on Fast Track authority for the president. Even with Cruz’s defection, however, President Obama and his Republican allies in the Senate succeeded in getting the 60-vote super-majority they needed to cut off debate. The 60-37 vote sets up a vote on TPA itself, which is scheduled for Wednesday. If it passes then, it will go to President Obama’s desk to be signed into law. Although most commentators are viewing TPA passage now as a done deal, it is still possible that it could be derailed again, as recent history has shown the battles over these pseudo-“free trade” pacts are full of surprises.
In an op-ed published on Brietbart.com today, Senator Cruz explained why he has switched from pro to anti on TPA. “The American people do not trust President Obama. And they do not trust Republican leadership in Congress,” Cruz wrote. “And the reason is simple: for far too long, politicians in Washington have not told the truth.”
As a general matter, Cruz said, he supports free trade. “But TPA in this Congress has become enmeshed in corrupt Washington backroom deal-making, along with serious concerns that it would open up the potential for sweeping changes in our laws that trade agreements typically do not include,” the Texas senator noted.
Since his earlier pro-TPA vote on May 22, Cruz says, two troubling material changes have come to light. The first was the revelation by WikiLeaks regarding the secret Trade in Services Agreement, or TiSA, which President Obama is attempting to use to open the immigration floodgates.
Another straw that broke the camel’s back for Cruz was the deal-making by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), promising a corporate welfare plum to Democrats and Republicans alike, in the form of billions of dollars for the U.S. Export-Import Bank.
Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.; shown top-right), who has been the leading principled opponent of Fast Track in the Congress, provided many more reasons why his colleagues should vote against handing TPA/Fast Track to President Obama. In a speech on the Senate floor, Sessions pointed out that the main objection to TPA is that it will almost guarantee passage of three major ObamaTrade packages that threaten our national sovereignty: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA).
Among the many crucial arguments Sen. Sessions makes are:
• Contrary to arguments of GOP leaders that TPA “empowers” Congress, it is a surrender of Congressional authority “for six years,” not only to President Obama, but to whomever follows him to the White House;
• The TPP/TTIP/TiSA, according to the Obama administration and our foreign partners, are “living agreements” that will continue to evolve, meaning they will mutate into whatever the trade architects (or future leaders) want them to be;
• The TPP/TTIP/TiSA subject the United States to rulings of international tribunals;
• TiSA could be used to undermine our immigration laws by forcing the U.S. to issue more temporary worker visas;
• President Obama is “breaking arms and heads” not to increase trade, but to get the political “trans-national union,” with international law that can be used against America’s interests.
Photos at top: Senators Ted Cruz (left) and Jeff Sessions