Your Congress in its own words: what they can’t say about the TPP | Blog#42

Here are your representatives in the U.S. Congress, in their own words, about what they are allowed and not allowed to see and do, when it comes to doing YOUR business in the context of a trade agreement that will affect your jobs, the prices you pay for certain things and the legal rights of corporations vis a vis the laws your Congress passed.

This is not how a Democracy is supposed to operate.

Senate Debate Reveals Absurd Level Of Trade Deal Secrecy

By Ryan Grimm and Michael McAuliff

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) sponsored a bill that would have required the administration to post a “scrubbed” copy of the trade deals well before Congress gives the president fast-track authority to jam them easily through Congress.

However, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) objected to bringing the bill forward. In response, Manchin and Warren made a few telling observations about the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the vast trade agreement the U.S. is currently negotiating with 11 other nations.

The pair noted that although legislators are allowed to look at the text of the TPP in a secure room, they are only allowed to do so under restrictions that make it nearly impossible to understand what they are reading.

First, they can’t bring expert staffers with them unless they have the right clearances, and the aides who have expertise in various relevant areas — for instance on the impacts on the environment or labor law — generally are not cleared.

Second, lawmakers can’t record anything, or take any notes from the room.

“They’ll give you a piece of paper if you want to take notes, but then you have to give them back the piece of paper,” Warren said.

The legislators can’t talk to anyone about what they’ve read, either.

“We are unable to take any notes or consider what we just saw unless we have a photographic memory and, unfortunately, I do not,” Manchin said. “I’ve tried to remember and look at things I knew I was looking for, but still it’s almost impossible to walk out of there having the ability to sit down and evaluate what you just saw.”


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