Senate Reverses Course and Advances TPP Fast Track Bill

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EFF.orgThe U.S. Sen­ate advanced the Fast Track bill today May 14) in a rushed vote fol­low­ing a slew of con­ces­sions made to swing Democ­rats who had vot­ed to block it ear­li­er this week. The set­back on Tues­day could have forced pro­po­nents of the Trans-Pacif­ic Part­ner­ship (TPP), the Transat­lantic Trade and Invest­ment Part­ner­ship (TTIP), and oth­er secre­tive, anti-user trade agree­ments to go back to the draw­ing board to come up with a new bill. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, Sen­ate lead­ers were able to get around this impasse with­in 48 hours by agree­ing to let Democ­rats vote on some oth­er trade-enforce­ment mea­sures first before hold­ing the vote on Fast Track.

Now the Sen­ate will go on to debate and vote on the bill, like­ly with­in the com­ing week—essentially putting this leg­is­la­tion on its own fast track to con­gres­sion­al approval. We have lit­tle con­fi­dence that the Sen­ate would improve the bill enough to ever rem­e­dy the non­trans­par­ent, cor­po­rate-dom­i­nat­ed process of trade nego­ti­a­tions. This is why we need to turn our atten­tion to rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

There is a bet­ter chance that Fast Track can be stopped in the House, where pro­por­tion­al­ly more law­mak­ers have expressed their oppo­si­tion to the bill than in the Sen­ate. But much of the rep­re­sen­ta­tives’ resis­tance is based on labor, envi­ron­ment, and cur­ren­cy manip­u­la­tion con­cerns, and not on the pro­vi­sions that would impact users’ rights. The White House and oth­er pro­po­nents of TPP may be will­ing to make some weak com­pro­mis­es on those non-tech issues, but they will like­ly do noth­ing to address the restric­tive dig­i­tal reg­u­la­tions that will come with these trade deals, nor even fix the secre­cy that have led to these bad terms.

Rep. Nan­cy Pelosi remains one of our main tar­gets of action. As Minor­i­ty Leader, she needs to come out strong against the secre­cy of trade nego­ti­a­tions and call on oth­ers in the House to fol­low her lead. And as the mem­ber of Con­gress rep­re­sent­ing San Fran­cis­co (which itself vot­ed to come out against Fast Track), she needs to defend the rights of users and Inter­net-based com­pa­nies against the extreme copy­right and trade secrets pro­vi­sions in the TPP. She con­tin­ues to stop short of com­ing out against Fast Track entire­ly, so it’s time for her to step up and lead this cam­paign in the House and speak out against these unde­mo­c­ra­t­ic, anti-user deals.

Pres­i­dent Oba­ma and the U.S. Trade Rep­re­sen­ta­tive have been spread­ing com­plete lies about Fast Track and the TPP, even going so far as to say that the TPP isn’t secret and that crit­ics are a bunch of mis­guid­ed lib­er­als who “don’t know what what they’re talk­ing about.” But our con­cerns are not about being left or right of the polit­i­cal aisle—we’re defend­ing our right to free speech, access to knowl­edge, and pri­va­cy online. Con­gress needs to address these real threats with the TPP, and that will only hap­pen if we make a huge amount of noise.

These next few weeks are cru­cial. Here are the actions you can take: