The Trans-Pacific Partnership Is in Trouble Thanks to Grassroots Pressure

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A protester holds a sign against the fast-track authority for the TPP during a protest in Portland, Oregon, on January 31, 2014. (Photo by Alex Milan Tracy/NurPhoto/Sipa USA) (Sipa via AP Images)

A protester holds a sign against the fast-track authority for the TPP during a protest in Portland, Oregon, on January 31, 2014. (Photo by Alex Milan Tracy/NurPhoto/Sipa USA)

Greg Sargent reports for The Washington Post:

Progressives and liberal lawmakers who are working hard to block the massive free trade deal being negotiated by the Obama administration have just gotten a big boost from someone they’d been aggressively courting: Nancy Pelosi.

In an event with labor officials on Capitol Hill yesterday, Pelosi delivered her strongest statement yet of opposition to the bill that would grant the Fast Track Authority sought by the administration to negotiate a sweeping free trade deal with a dozen Pacific countries. The bill — co-sponsored by Dem Senator Max Baucus and GOP Rep. Dave Camp — is strongly opposed by labor, liberal groups and many Congressional Dems.

“No on Fast Track — Camp-Baucus — out of the question,” Pelosi said, according to a transcript of her remarks forwarded to me by her office. She also told assembled steelworkers: “We cannot support Camp-Baucus. We cannot support Camp-Baucus.”’

Pelosi’s statement comes just two weeks after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said that he wouldn’t bring “fast track” trade promotion authority up for a vote.

Multilateral trade agreements like the TPP are virtually impossible to enact without fast track, which allows the executive branch to submit a treaty to Congress for an up or down vote, without amendments.

For this Congress, at least, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (and, presumably, the less well-known Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP) appears to be dead. Despite the fact that woefully little attention has been paid to the deal by mainstream news outlets, liberals, unions and tea party groups — which dubbed fast-track “Obamatrade” — have created a groundswell of grassroots opposition to the TPP that seems to have been heard by enough lawmakers in Washington to make a difference.

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