GOP Leaders, Administration Profiteer on Wartime Anxieties to Eke Out Incredibly Partisan One-Vote Fast Track Majority

Dec. 6, 2001

GOP Leaders, Administration Profiteer on Wartime Anxieties to Eke Out Incredibly Partisan One-Vote Fast Track Majority

Statement of Lori Wallach, Director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch

Reviving the moldering corpse of Fast Track today relegates U.S. policymaking on globalization to an outdated, inappropriate process that guarantees increased public and congressional opposition to future trade deals. For the Bush administration, the cost of a short-term gain on this vote is a long-term standstill on U.S. trade policy. The heated, partisan debate and narrow passage of Fast Track vaporizes the crumbling remains of the bipartisan consensus on trade and guarantees that future trade agreements negotiated by the administration will be met with great skepticism.

Fast Track passed by only one vote 215-214, with 197 of the votes for Fast Track coming from Republicans – including a bloc of Republicans Ayes@ votes coming from longtime foes of Fast Track, NAFTA and WTO. The stark absence of traditional Democratic Afree trade@ votes for this bill exposes today=s action as more of the Republicans= exploitation of the war on terrorism to manipulate passage of backward, corporate boondoggles for their campaign contributors. The Republicans could not have passed this retrograde trade legislation absent the current national emergency, and the American people will remember this for what it is C crass political profiteering.

The narrow and highly-charged passage of Fast Track will solidify opposition to future trade pacts among the American public and congressional critics of the trade status quo. By further polarizing the debate, proponents of corporate-managed trade could face an entirely new playing board when a redistricted Congress returns in 2002. As the array of events over the past five years shows, the anti-corporate globalization movement remains strong and effective: In 1997 and in 1998, Fast Track was stopped; in 1998, the MAI negotiations were tanked; and in 1999, the planned WTO expansion was halted.

The hundreds of rallies and protests worldwide during the WTO’s Doha Ministerial last month certainly make a mockery of the propaganda campaign concerning the anti-corporate globalization movement’s post-Sept. 11 demise.

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