Despite the fact that opposition is growing to a proposal to give the president Fast Track trade authority, the McConnell-Boehner Corporate Congress seems intent on pushing it through. We are hearing rumblings that U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will try to start the Fast Track bill debate on the Senate floor as early as Tuesday. The legislation would allow the president to sign the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — or any other dangerous trade deal — before Congress has voted to approve it. He could then railroad the deal through Congress in only 90 days, with limited debate and no amendments allowed. The co-sponsors claim their proposals would improve Fast Track, but a close look at the bill reveals the same fundamental flaws as past Fast Track bills.
Public Citizen is tracking other public interest attacks in the Corporate Congress next week as well:
• Legislation to end the oil export ban is to be introduced next week by U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). She may try to attach it to the Fast Track bill. Why is lifting the nearly 40-year-old ban on exporting domestic crude oil a bad idea? Because it would raise gasoline prices for U.S. motorists, lead to more environmentally harmful fracking and greenhouse gas emissions, and tether us to an economic model of dependency on raw natural resource extraction.
• We hear that a major banking bill that has yet to be introduced is slated to be marked up by the Senate Banking Committee next Thursday. The committee chair, U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), is expected to advance a sweeping bill with significant cuts in basic safeguards that govern large banks.
• The House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations is holding a hearing about Dodd-Frank and “regulatory overreach.” This will be a forum for the financial industry to vent its complaints about Dodd-Frank. What’s key to remember is that the law was designed to stop the excessive risk-taking of Wall Street, which led to the 2008 global financial crash and drove people into foreclosure and bankruptcy. Dodd-Frank provides badly needed consumer protections.
• Finally, we hear that a House version of chemical safety legislation will be marked up on Thursday by the House Energy & Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy. This is related to the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act (S. 697), which, in a bit of an affront to the late senator, would take the country’s chemical safety policy backward. The House version is also bad, but for different reasons.