Ryan sweetens Fast Track trade deal pot

Hoping to attract more conservative support for the Fast Track trade authority deal that will probably be voted on today, Rep. Paul Ryan is trying to address some major concerns that conservatives have with the bill by offering an amendment that would prevent the president from negotiating any changes to US immigration or climate change law.

Wall Street Journal:

Some Republicans, led by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), are warning that Mr. Obama could use so-called fast track legislation—which would expedite a sweeping Pacific trade agreement—not only to lift not trade barriers but also to ease the movement of people and workers.  Other Republicans are concerned about the Obama administration’s recent negotiations on climate change and efforts to change environmental rules without the participation of Congress.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) has even warned that a future president could use the six-year fast track legislation, also known as trade promotion authority, to expedite the passage of a trade agreement that could roll back rules on Wall Street.

Many officials, Republican leaders and trade experts dismiss these concerns as far-fetched, pointing out that Congress still gets a vote on the final trade agreement, although without the ability to amend or tie up the deal in procedural limbo.

Still, Republican leaders are seeking to address broad concerns among House conservatives who don’t trust Mr. Obama to negotiate internationally, even under the guidelines set through fast track.

So Mr. Ryan inserted language in a separate customs bill that would in turn amend fast track to prevent changes to climate or immigration laws via trade agreements.

“It’s just making sure that if the administration wants to go down a path of seeking legislative changes in climate or immigration, they can’t do it through trade agreements,” Mr. Ryan told a hearing of the House Rules Committee on Wednesday.

I don't think these concerns are "far fetched" at all, and Ryan's amendment is both wise and prudent. The fact that Congress has a vote on whether to accept the final deal - just like they have an up or down vote on any Iran deal - doesn't matter. This is a president who has shown contempt for the congressional branch of government, and it's anyone's guess just how he would seek to circumvent Congress in the event of a negative vote on the trade bill.

Some on the right and left can't see past the cone of silence that has descended on just what's been negotiated so far in the Asian trade agreement. The secrecy surrounding the text troubles both good government liberals and suspicious conservatives, who have ample evidence of Obama duplicity to find the secrecy a warning sign of worse things to come. 

But despite a bi-partisan push against the bill, it appears that the votes to pass it have been locked up.