Common Cause Urges ‘Deliberate, Transparent Process’ for Review of Trade Deal

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  • Dale Eisman
Citizen Voices Must Be Heard, Advocates Say

With the House of Representatives preparing to vote on President Obama’s request for special “fast track” authority to finalize a massive international trade agreement, Common Cause cautioned members of Congress today to insist on a deliberate, transparent process for review of the deal.

“Few people have seen the draft agreement itself, but we know that the proposed TPP trade deal will be enormously complex, involving 12 countries and 40 percent of the world economy,” said Wendy Fields, Common Cause’s Vice President for Campaigns and Strategic Partnerships. “Its impact on the livelihoods of millions of Americans and the cost of goods and services will be felt by millions of consumers here and around the world for decades.

“That makes it particularly important that, before granting the President fast track authority and giving up their ability to amend the TPP, members of Congress be certain that they and the American public will be able to thoroughly review, understand and comment on the deal ahead of a final vote on whether to ratify it. In weighing their votes on fast track, members should ask whether they and the American people have had sufficient time to consider the issues thoroughly.

Fields urged lawmakers to review the “Statement of Principles” Common Cause issued last month on fast track and the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions that are expected to be part of the final TPP deal and to include these provisions in the fast track legislation:

  • A reasonable citizen review period for the TPP deal, with ample opportunity for all interested parties to comment on its impact on investments by large and small U.S. businesses, employment and labor practices, worker wages and dislocation, consumer product prices and health, safety and environmental regulations.
  • A set of trade objectives for Congress to apply as it considers the final TPP agreement and a provision for consultation between Congress and the executive branch so that Congress can be ensured that those objectives are being met.
  • Thorough and transparent review by Congress of how the TPP will affect smaller nations, indigenous populations, and others against predation and widening economic inequality
  • A provision for congressional hearings on different sections of the agreement and sufficient time for floor debate for all representative views to be heard.
  • Full disclosure of the names and affiliations of all “expert” advisors to and participants in the negotiation with access to drafts of the agreement.
  • Separate congressional action on the important ISDS arbitration provisions that are part of the TPP, with public notice, public hearings and debate following separate procedures that allow ample opportunity for public comment.

Since the principles were released, Common Cause members have sent more than 32,000 messages to the President and members of Congress, urging them to adopt a TPP review process that provides transparency and accountability and balances the interests of corporations and citizens.