UNITED NATIONS – Congress would be cut out of decisions impacting the nation’s economy and laws under the terms of an international agreement President Obama has negotiated and intends to sign.
The pact also essentially moves the nation’s economy out from under the constraints of the U.S. Constitution.
The administration on Thursday finally released the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a global regulatory deal it has been negotiating in secret over the last six years. The TPP currently involves 12 countries on four continents.
The text reveals the TPP agreement undermines U.S. sovereignty by establishing a secret, unaccountable TransPacific Partnership Commission with sweeping regulatory powers over 40 percent of the world’s economy.
The TransPacific Partnership Commission would have the power to write rules concerning immigration, food, energy, medicine, the Internet, copyrights, patents and businesses within U.S. borders as well as across the rest of the commission’s membership.
Congress would have no role in creating or approving the rules the commission writes unilaterally.
A requirement that any objection to one of the commission’s decisions be made in writing within five days effectively excludes congressional input.
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Article 27 of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement creates the Trans-Pacific Partnership Commission made up of officials appointed by each member country.
The commission will have broad powers, not only for the “implementation or operation” of the agreement and to interpret the terms of the pact but also to “amend or modify” the pact.
The commission is required to meet regularly “with a view to updating and enhancing this agreement” according to what the commissions deems “relevant to the trade and investment issues and challenges” of the times.
That would include deciding which countries can join.
When it updates the TPP, the commission is required to consider decisions made by other “international fora,” such as the United Nations and the climate-change summit.
But it’s not required to gain the approval of the U.S. Congress.
In a footnote to the agreement, the government of Chile says it will implement the commission’s decisions in accordance with the Constitution of Chile.
Tellingly, there is no such stipulation regarding the U.S. Constitution or Congress.
The agreement negotiated by the Obama administration allows the commission to act entirely in secret.
The commission has the sole power to “establish rules of procedures for the conduct of its work.”
But the commission is not required to notify the public regarding when it meets, the subjects it is deliberating or how it reaches its decisions.
The commission’s decision-making process is particularly troubling.
The commission can refer matters to a staff working group, and that group will be empowered to reach a final decision without input from all the member countries – including the U.S.
According to Article 27.3.1, a decision is considered final “if no party present at any meeting when a decision is taken objects to the proposed decision.”
What’s important is that not all member states are required to be present at the meeting in which the decision was made.
In other words, a group within the Trans-Pacific Partnership Commission that does not include the U.S. could reach a final decision affecting the U.S. without the U.S. being present.
Not only is the U.S. Congress cut out from decision making, the U.S. itself could find itself overruled in the international rule-making body created under the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.
In addition to the 12 countries currently in the pact, President Obama has announced Indonesia intends to join. Secretary of State John Kerry says China and Russia could also join the pact. Thailand, Taiwan and the Philippines also have expressed interest in signing up.