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Alabama congressmen blast Obama’s secret trade agreement

Congressmen Gary Palmer (R-AL6) and Mo Brooks (R-AL5)
Congressmen Gary Palmer (R-AL6) and Mo Brooks (R-AL5)

WASHINGTON — Several members of Alabama’s Congressional delegation have spoken out recently against the air of secrecy surrounding the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed trade agreement with several Asian countries.

“Last Wednesday, President Obama said that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) could be amended after its adoption to add China to the agreement, raising new questions about the powers Congress is ceding to the executive through fast-track approval,” Congressmen Mo Brooks (R-AL5) and Gary Palmer (R-AL6) wrote in a letter to Ways and Means committee chair Paul Ryan (R-WI). “As a result, we believe it is essential before any vote on TPA that the White House provide for full and complete public viewing of the TPP and summary documents explaining how the “living agreement” provision of the TPP will operate as well as all powers and authorities delegated to the “Trans-Pacific Partnership Commission” (Commission) that will be created by the TPP.”

Four other GOP House members signed the letter along with Brooks and Palmer.

“I had the opportunity to review TPP, but only someone with a photographic memory could recall all that is necessary to make a decision on whether to support over 500 pages of legislative text,” said Palmer in another letter, this one addressed to United States Trade Representative Michael Froman.

In the second letter, Palmer noted that the security language written on the actual document indicated it could be faxed or emailed in an unclassified manner, saying “That the document can be transmitted through unsecure means appears to indicate that the material is not really classified.”

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), has also been outspoken against the secrecy of the TPP, as well as the related reauthorization of the Trade Promotion Authority, or so-called “fast track” which would strip Congress of its ability to amend trade agreements, including the TPP.

“Reviewing the secret text, plus the secret guidance document that accompanies it, 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,” Sessions wrote in a letter to the President this week. “Under this new commission, the Sultan of Brunei would have an equal vote to that of the United States.”

Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) joined with Sessions and only three other Republicans in an attempt to stall the fast track authorization in May.

“While I support the principle of free trade, I voted against moving forward on a bill that would provide the President with ‘fast-track’ negotiating authority,” Sen. Shelby told Yellowhammer shortly after a vote to end debate. “President Obama has abused the power of his office many times, and I have serious concerns with his ability to negotiate a trade deal that will be in the best interest of the American people.”

Though there are a growing number of Republicans standing against the TPP and TPA, GOP leadership is expected to have enough votes to shuttle authorization to the President’s desk later this week.

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