Amending fast track ‘futile’

 May 18, 2015, Fairfax, Va.—Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning today issued the following statement commenting on Senate amendments being offered to the trade promotion authority legislation:

“Americans for Limited Government is gratified that so many Senators are concerned with the disastrous potential impact of the Trans-Pacific Partnership that they are attempting to negate these harms through amending the fast track enabling legislation.

“We believe that these efforts, while noble, are ultimately futile, as they will not prevent the enactment of a trade agreement or its implementing legislation containing offensive provisions under expedited fast track procedural rules. Even language which explicitly strips fast track authority if certain provisions are not met is only as good as Congress’ willingness to enforce them. Given recent history and the support for fast track demonstrated by leadership in both Houses, stripping the authority once granted is extremely improbable.

“What’s more, no legislation can handcuff future legislation from its repeal or amendment. Supreme Court Justice David Souter elaborated in United States v. Winstar, 518 U.S. 839 (1996), ‘[W]e have recognized that a general law…may be repealed, amended or disregarded by the legislature that enacted it, and it is not binding upon any subsequent legislature…’ quoting Manigault v. Springs, 199 U.S. 473 (1905).

“The trade agreement and its implementing legislation will be submitted to Congress under fast track rules ‘notwithstanding any other provisions or prior laws.’

“This is why those in Congress who are so concerned about the impacts of the Trans-Pacific Partnership that they would offer or vote for restricting amendments, can best show that concern by voting down granting President Obama what Senate Leader Mitch McConnell called, ‘an enormous grant of power’ and allowing any agreement, partnership or treaty that the President signs to be subject to full Congressional scrutiny.”

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