On Wednesday afternoon the U.S. Senate voted to approve “fast track” authority. The approval is a major victory for President Obama, Big Business, and corporations across the globe.
After voting to end debate on Tuesday, the Senate voted 60 to 38 to approve the controversial measure. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law immediately. The House has already passed the measure with support from Democrats and Republicans.
The approval for FTA by the Senate is related to the push for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The TPP is one of the largest trade agreements in history, involving the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. The nations have been negotiating the deal since 2005, with global resistance growing since 2012.
Supporters of the bill say it would mean more jobs and a stronger America. Critics say the bill will give corporations loopholes to escape accountability and empower international bodies, overriding national sovereignty of the signing nations.
Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, co-author of the bill, said it was a historic day and called the vote, “perhaps the most important bill we’ll pass in the Senate this year.”
On Tuesday, Senators Rand Paul and Ted Cruz both voted against ending the debate on the bill.
The trade agreement has been notoriously secret, with the public only viewing chapters of the text which have been leaked by WikiLeaks. U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ), a supporter of the TPP, called for more transparency. In a letter sent to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, Lance said that his constituents support the agreement but do not want secrecy.
“They, however, want trade agreements that are transparent and good for American workers and American taxpayers,” Lance wrote. “Yet the TPP negotiating text is currently classified, and only members of Congress and staffers with security clearance can access it. I believe declassifying and releasing the negotiating text online will bring much-needed transparency, accountability and public awareness to the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement and its policy implications.”