Allow the Trans-Pacific Partnership to reintroduce itself if you may!
What is ‘The Rundown?’ Other than a terrific action-comedy staring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Stifler from ‘American Pie’, it’s our unique breakdown of major news stories that are currently hitting the political scene. So while you’ve been living the high life, we’ve been workin’ because we care! In this edition we talk about President Obama’s bill that just won’t die, the reemergence of the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
[UPDATE: The Senate a little while ago passed Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation. Because the House has already passed the bill, it will go straight to the president’s desk to get signed.]
Video of President Obama Addressing Democrats over TPP Legislation
Oh our bad, that’s actually footage of Snoop Dog at the 1995 Source Awards after the East Coast crowd booed Dr. Dre for getting Producer of the Year honors. While President Obama isn’t quite to Snoop Dog levels publically, privately in front of a mirror, he probably recites that rant verbatim.
The Joys of an Up-or-Down Vote
Yesterday the Senate approved to advance the TPP through the Trade Promotion Authority legislation (TPA) – more on that in a bit. That means any trade deal President Obama would negotiate would only need an up-and-down vote by Congress. What is an up-or-down vote you ask? Well…
- An up-or-down vote is a direct vote in either the House or Senate in which members can only vote yay or nay on a matter.
More importantly an up-or-down vote in Congress means you don’t have to get 2/3 majority for legislation to pass, you only need a simple majority. This is why getting this specific voting format was so important to the TPP’s survival.
That also means stalling tactics like delaying a bill, tabling legislation, and especially filibusters can’t happen with an up-and-down vote. Somewhere, at this very moment, Rand Paul is weeping in a men’s bathroom stall and he doesn’t know why.
TPA and TAA: Brothers from another Mother
Currently the crux of the debate within Congress has to do with two aspects of the TPP: Trade Promotion Authority and Trade Adjustment Assistance.
Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) is being voted on today by the Senate. If it passes – which it’s expected to – it would give President Obama the authority to do an up-or-down vote for trade deals when they reach Congress.
On the flip-side, there’s Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) which are programs created to help US workers whose jobs are lost due to foreign competition. For the Democrats, the TAA is very important to them, because the problems that many liberals have with the TPP stem from the fear that the trade deal would undermine government regulations that protect American workers. Originally TAA programs were tied to TPA legislation, but many House Republicans – while supporting the TPA – despised the TAA stipulations looking at the programs as wasteful government spending.
Currently as it stands, both the pro-TPP supporters (the Obama administration and Congressional Republicans) along with TPP dissenters (mostly Congressional Democrats) looked to have come to a compromise. Republicans are promising that if the TPA legislation passes, they will bring TAA forward for a vote. This could mean an easier passage for the TAA because all Democrats would most likely be supporting the measure due to not being chained to the TPA legislation.
Whether Democrats trust Republicans enough to pass the legislation is another matter entirely.
How the TPP Debate is Your Unattractive Friend
Be honest, with the TPA and TAA discussion in this Rundown, how many of you just skimmed or basically skipped the passage? My guess is a good number of you. Which is unfortunate, because that last section is where crux of this debate over the TPP takes place. The problem however, if we’re being brutally honest, the TPP isn’t sexy.
But you know what is sexy, that Confederate flag debate! Now there’s a sexy debate! It has everything; hot button issues of race in America, very discernable sides, easy to understand talking points, Don Lemon using poor judgment on national TV, and much more. The TPP debate in comparison is a mess of a debate that is hard to understand and has too many acronyms with the letter ‘T’ in them.
This isn’t to say that the Confederate flag debate isn’t important, because it absolutely is, but now count how many think pieces you read on the Confederate flag and compare that to the number you read on TPP legislation. Now realize that the TPP debate has been raging on for six months now, the current Confederate flag debate has only been going on for less than a week.
The TPP is Bill from King of the Hill.
The Confederate flag debate is Scarlett Johansson.
(Photo Credits: Wikipedia, Universal Pictures, Google Images, United Artists, Esquire)