Since 1974, Congress has frequently ceded the Senate’s power to accept (ratify) or decline treaties, under the so-called Fast Track trade negotiating authority. First given to Gerald Ford by the Trade Act of 1974, Fast Track allows the president to negotiate a trade related treaty with foreign powers, then submit it to Congress for approval by a majority, without amendments. This circumvents the constitutional procedure of the president presenting the treaty to the Senate for debate, followed by potential reservations, and a ratification vote, which requires a two thirds majority to pass. Under Fast Track, no amendments or reservations are allowed, and passage requires only a majority vote.
The current attempt by President Obama and the establishment Republican congressional leadership to implement a version of Fast Track is intended to grease the skids for passage of several trade agreements: the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Trans Atlantic Trade and Investment Parnership (TTIP) and others. The proponents of these treaties position them as “free trade” bills that should make American goods more competitive internationally. What they actually do is to set up international bureaucracies with legislative powers that supersede the powers granted to Congress. (<– Please do click that link)
The treaties themselves are inherently unconstitutional. The Constitution does not grant to Congress the power to delegate its own legislative authority to anyone, least of all a foreign body. Congress also has no constitutional authority to grant judicial powers to others. But cases that arise out of these treaties will be decided by the bureaucrats who administer the bodies created by the treaties. Americans would have to live with the decrees of the “administrative law judges,” since US courts would not be authorized to interfere.
So what we have is an unconstitutional process being used to implement unconstitutional treaties. We have congressional leadership, including especially the Republican Senate and House leadership, colluding with the least trustworthy president in generations, to grant that president carte blanch to negotiate the treaties, with almost no possibility of failure to ratify them. Most bizarrely of all, we find ourselves having to rely on sleazy congressional Democrats and their union allies to prevent all of this: right at home in Alice in Wonderland.
It’s too late to do anything about the Senate, since they’ve already gone to the dark side. The House of Representatives is supposed to be “the people’s house,” so it’s past time for “the people” (you and me) to weigh in. Find your representative’s contact information and call, write, or email your opposition to Fast Track and the so-called free trade agreements.