From Arthur Stamolis of Citizen’s Trade Campaign
Congratulations on yesterday’s impressive victory! In case you missed it, the House voted to block Fast Track from moving forward — a huge win for Main Street over Wall Street, and a testament to your years of strategic organizing. Thank you!
Unfortunately, the offshorers, the polluters, the lobbyists and the profiteers haven’t given up quite yet, so we’ve got more work to do — and we need to get to back to work fast.
Here’s how Friday’s win went down: the House separated the Fast Track bill passed by the Senate into two parts. First was a vote on an inadequately-funded and exclusionary Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program for displaced workers. Then was a vote on the Fast Track process itself. Both parts needed to pass for the bill to pass. You can see how Reps voted on TAA here and how they voted on the Fast Track process here. Bottom line: when TAA was voted down, the entire Fast Track bill was sunk.
After the vote, Speaker Boehner called for a re-vote on TAA. That vote is supposed to happen within two legislative days, so it’ll either be on Monday or Tuesday (although the Speaker may be able to find ways to extend that if he wants). Voting on Monday starts at noon Eastern, so that’s the earliest the re-vote could occur.
It’s critical that we are profusely THANKING those who voted against TAA and Fast Track and urging them to do so again. We also need to keep respectfully trying with those who voted for TAA, but against Fast Track — urging them to vote against TAA next week. (No-holds-barred with those politicians who voted for both.)
Unfortunately, there is still some confusion about the proposed TAA program even among our allies, and you’d better believe the White House, Republican leadership and others are working overtime this weekend to increase that confusion.
Here’s what you need to know about TAA. Normally, we’re all for it. It’s an important lifeline that provides job retraining benefits to people whose careers are shipped abroad as a result of bad U.S. trade policy. But nobody in their right mind would ever argue that a job retraining program is a smart trade-off for rubber-stamping massive trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that will offshore jobs, drive down wages and more. That’s what a vote for TAA next week is. It’s a vote for Fast Tracking the TPP. The current TAA proposal is a cynical ploy that needs to be stopped.
As if that weren’t bad enough, the TAA program being offered isn’t even a strong one. It excludes public sector workers whose jobs are offshored and it is significantly under-funded. The $700 million in Medicare cuts made to pay for it may be partially addressed, assuming the Senate goes along, but even if that is fixed, another $250 million in cuts to a Medicare kidney dialysis program and a whole lot of political liability are still in there.
The good news is that Republican leadership and the White House face a heavy lift to win on TAA next week, as we destroyed the measure in a 126 – 302 vote on Friday. That said, the President wants this BAD. Speaker Boehner wants this BAD. We need to keep pushing so that we win that vote, and that we win whatever sorry plan Team TPP comes up with next to try to squeeze Fast Track through this month.
They know the clock is ticking on the TPP, and they’re going to keep trying — at least for a while. We are winning. Here’s what we need to keep it going:
* If you represent an organization, please make sure to call any Reps who voted against Fast Track and the TAA this weekend and early on Monday to thank them and urge them to do so again.
* If you haven’t yet, please send a personal email now thanking or spanking your representative for their votes on Friday.
* Take a moment to look up your your Reps Twitter and Facebook accounts, and spend a couple moments on social media today urging them to vote against Fast Track and the cynical TAA ploy next week.
Be ready for any rapid-response action requests that come early next week. Again, we could see new voting as soon as Monday.
Together, we’re going to keeping riding this wave of success. Thank you again for everything you’ve done to get us this far.
Arthur Stamoulis, Executive Director
CITIZENS TRADE CAMPAIGN