Washington, DC -- With a vote on Fast Track trade authority for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) coming as soon as next week, the major on-line campaigning groups essential to numerous Democratic electoral and issue campaigns are demanding leadership from the top Democrats in the House of Representatives to secure the defeat of Fast Track. The Democratic House leaders have given the administration more than a fair chance to make its case and that has resulted in 90 percent of House Democrats opposing Fast Track, including most members of the New Democrat Coalition.
“As progressive opposition to Fast Track intensifies, Leader Pelosi is conspicuously absent from the fight,” said Murshed Zaheed, Deputy Political Director at CREDO Action. “President Obama has chosen to side with Republicans and big corporations. Now Leader Pelosi has to decide if she’s going to use her position to help President Obama or rally her caucus on behalf of the millions of Americans who want to stop Fast Track and the TPP.”
"It's time for Leader Nancy Pelosi to make clear where she stands: with the majority of Americans and the Democratic caucus—all of whom are committed to stopping Fast Track—or with a massive corporate power grab,” said Justin Krebs, Campaign Director at MoveOn.org Civic Action. “She has refused to state clearly her intentions—and her silence is tantamount to tacit support for this corporate agenda. Leader Pelosi: If you truly represent Democrats and are committed to fighting for regular Americans, show your leadership now.”
The Fast Track vote has been repeatedly delayed for lack of support. Almost all House Democrats and a sizeable bloc of GOP oppose reviving the Nixon-era Fast Track trade authority that delegates broad powers and discretion to presidents. Congress has only enacted Fast Track for five of the past 21 years. Since 1988, only Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush have won the broad delegation of authority that President Barack Obama now seeks.
“Democratic House leaders should lead the Democratic Caucus to victory against Fast Track, not save the White House from its ill-conceived, secretive partnership with corporate America to grease the skids for the job-killing TPP,” said Jim Dean, Chair of Democracy for America.
"Despite Leader Pelosi’s assertion that it is not her job to pass the trade bill, it is her job to stop it,” said John Stewart, Deputy Campaign Director at Corporate Accountability International. “This trade bill would undermine our very sovereignty to protect our environment, our health and our workers.”
For months, Pelosi has said that she wants to “get to yes” on Fast Track and has tried to work with the administration to resolve her Caucus’ many concerns about the TPP and the Hatch-Ryan-Wyden legislation that would enact Fast Track. Ways and Means ranking member Sandy Levin offered a substitute trade authority bill in committee markup aimed at resolving Democrats’ key concerns with the Hatch-Ryan-Wyden bill, but his proposal was not even permitted a vote. The Democratic leaders also have provided the White House extraordinary access to the Democratic House Caucus to make its case.
The lack of satisfactory answers to Democrats’ concerns and the Republicans’ refusal to alter the Fast Track bill has led to almost all House Democrats announcing their opposition to Fast Track. On Thursday, Politico reported from Pelosi’s weekly news conference that she had informed