A long-anticipated event finally happened this week: Despite enormous opposition, lawmakers in the Corporate Congress introduced Fast Track legislation on Thursday, the day after an anti-Fast Track rally drew about 1,200 participants. Committee consideration of this anti-democratic, anti-consumer measure is expected as soon as next week. Also coming up: Monday marks the fifth anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, prompting lawmakers on Wednesday to look at drilling safety (spoiler alert: a disaster on the scale of BP could happen again). And the U.S. House of Representatives may try to defund the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which in its short lifespan has been remarkably successful in its mission. Here are more specifics:
- The Fast Track measure would revive the controversial Fast Track procedures to which nearly all House Democrats and a sizable bloc of House Republicans already have announced opposition. Most of the text replicates word-for-word the text of the 2014 Fast Track bill, which itself replicated much of the 2002 Fast Track bill. The latest bill explicitly grandfathers in Fast Track coverage for the almost-completed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and would extend Fast Track procedures for three to six years. The measure would delegate away Congress’ constitutional trade authority.
Fast Track would enable the administration to expand the same broken trade model that has led us to a $912 billion trade deficit, the loss of millions of manufacturing jobs and corporate attacks on public interest policies regarding food safety, environmental laws, Internet freedom, affordable medicines, financial stability and more. The Senate Finance and the House Ways and Means Committees likely will mark up the bill next week. Meanwhile, another rally against Fast Track is scheduled for noon Monday outside the office of the U.S. Trade Representative, 600 17th St. NW.
- Monday marks the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the BP disaster. At 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, April 22, the House Committee on Natural Resources will hold a hearing on safety innovations since the incident. What lawmakers need to know is that the few new drilling rules issued since 2010 are inadequate. They help address the state of the industry five years ago, but not today – when companies are drilling deeper and expanding their operations. Deepwater oil drilling still is not safe. Here are five reasons a BP-scale disaster could happen again.
Talk about an anti-consumer attack. The House may vote as soon as Tuesday on a bill (H.R. 1195) that essentially would defund the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This is the agency that supervises banks, credit unions and other financial companies, restricts unfair and deceptive practices, and enforces federal consumer financial protection laws. In a short period of time, the CFPB’s enforcement actions have resulted in $5 billion in relief for roughly 15 million people and have led to more than $150 million in civil penalties for illegal corporate practices. H.R. 1195 would impose a de facto ceiling on the agency’s funding to offset the costs of the required advisory committees. The anti-consumer zeal behind this bill is mind-boggling.