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Legislature Expresses Concern About Trans-Pacific Partnership and Use of “Fast-Track” Authority

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Legislature Expresses Concern About Trans-Pacific Partnership and Use of “Fast-Track” Authority

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Legislature passed a resolution voicing official concern about trade negotiations between the US and eleven Pacific Rim nations that have occurred without transparency over the past six years toward the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and about President Obama’s request to Congress for “Fast-Track” authority for the TPP.  “Fast-Track”, in part, limits Congress’s role, requires Congressional action within 90 days, allows no amendments, and only a single yes or no vote on the total package.   The resolution calls both TPP and “Fast-Track” “non-transparent, undemocratic, and potentially harmful to the United States economy, workforce, legal systems, food safety, environment, and residents, and are opposed by numerous environmental, health, labor, and good government organizations.”

The Legislature, in its action, asks Congress and the President to halt the “Fast-Track” process of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and instead to allow the TPP ‘a fully transparent, public debate in Congress” to allow its impacts to be fully assessed, and protect the rights of the people in Tompkins County, the best interests of our local business and workforce, the health of our environment, and the sovereignty of local governments in Tompkins County.  The Legislature also urges its Federal representatives—Senators Schumer and Gillibrand and Representative Tom Reed—to vote against any legislation in favor of the “Fast-Track” process.

The vote was 12-1, with Legislator Peter Stein voting no (Legislator Mike Sigler was excused).  Mr. Stein said he sees the issue as extremely complicated and difficult to understand.  He said he fears the real motivation of the move to defeat “Fast-Track” may be political, an attempt to undercut the President, and that sometimes the use of international tribunals are necessary in the negotiation of treaties between nations.  But others spoke to its importance, even down to the level of local government.    Legislator Martha Robertson warned that, under the tribunal process, a foreign corporation could sue any federal, state, or local subdivision of a signatory country, for alleged wrongs or perceived future wrongs.  Legislator Carol Chock said the system, if it’s implemented, will decimate small business, and needs to be opposed to preserve our economic way of life.  Calling the issue “critically important,” Legislator Will Burbank said the County may be the first county in the nation to oppose it and has the ability to affect the conversation.