Friday, June 5, 2015

Republicans mum on reading of Obamatrade: It's 'unforgivable ... to shirk' this duty

Unbelievable! Republicans about to do an Obamacare on Obamatrade ...

At least two leading Republicans – Majority Whip Steve Scalise and Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions – won't say whether they've read the text of the trade deal they support that's being pushed by President Obama, leading some to wonder if the massive Trans Pacific Partnership is about to go the way of Obamacare, when the mantra was to pass it to see what was in it.

In March 2010, then-Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi made national headlines for pressing for approval of Obamacare despite the fact congressional members hadn't had time to read the massive text, telling her colleagues and the nation "we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it," various media reported.

Now, a handful of Republicans on Capitol Hill seem to be striking a similar tone with the secretive Trans Pacific Partnership Pacific Rim trade deal and the fast-track Obama seeks – the Trade Promotion Authority – to press its provisions absent hefty congressional oversight and approval.

Breitbart asked Scalise and Sessions, both of whom reportedly support Obama's fast-track request, if they've read the bill that's been dubbed Obamatrade. And their response? Breitbart reported they refused to say.

Jill Shatzen, a spokesperson for Sessions, sent Breitbart an email to answer whether he's been in the secret room in the Capitol established for the reading of the TPP, and whether he'd support fast-track for Obama even if he hadn't read the document.

She emailed: "Chairman Sessions has been a strong proponent of TPA in order to ensure the Congress has a major role in overseeing trade deals and ensuring they are representative of what the American people want. Because negotiations on TPP are not complete, the full agreement is not yet available for review by members. However, when it is complete, TPA ensures that all members and the public have 60 days to review the final agreement before COngress acts. The chairman looks forward to reviewing the final agreement at that time."

Scalise's office was asked the same questions and said through a spokesperson: "I want to make sure we're clear that TPA and TPP are two separate things. What the House is working to apss is the Trade Priorities and Accountability Act, the text of which is readily available. The [TPA] mandates that any negotiated trade deal, such as TPP, must be made public for 60 days before it's brought to a vote, and it gives either chamber of Congress a shut-off switch to stop any deal that does not meet the preconditions set by Congress."

Breitbart asked a second time if Scalise had read the TPP, his spokesperson again dodged.

In another email, the spokesperson wrote: "As someone who is following this issue so closely, you're no doubt aware that the text of TPP is not yet final. ... Again, I would point to the fact that TPA requires the text of any negotiated deal to be made public 60 days before a congressional vote so far from secret, the text would be publicly available in the light of day."

The news outlet reported numerous other Republicans have refused to admit whether they've read the text of the bill, including Sen. Marco Rubio, Sen. Lindsey Graham and House Speaker John Boehner.

"It is unforgivable for the Republican majority to shirk its congressional duty and refuse to read the text of a bill that will give Obama unprecedented authority over our economy," said Daniel Horotwitz, the senior editor of Conservative Review, as reported by Breitbart. "Passing a bill in order to find out what's in it is what placed the Pelosi Congress in the ash-heap of history."

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