From: The Honorable Keith Ellison
Sent By: Lindsey.Herbel@mail.house.gov
Date: 4/1/2014

Consumer Protection Groups Say Fast Track &TPP Are Bad For Consumers

Dear Colleague:

I write to bring to your attention a letter from leading consumer protection groups that warns against approving Fast Track and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).  Last week policy directors from Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, National Consumers League, Public Citizen, Center for Science and Democracy Union of Concerned Scientists, and U.S. PIRG sent a letter to Congress voicing their concerns.  The chief concern among the groups is the expansive impact that TPP will have on federal and state consumer policies and protections in the absence of Congressional oversight.

The stakes are too high to allow TPP to be implemented without Congressional input.  TPP and similar trade agreements are multi-billion dollar trade deals with major implications for the American economy.  Our jobs, the environment, access to pharmaceuticals, and bedrock constitutional principles like freedom of speech are at stake.  We cannot afford to blindly trust that trade officials are negotiating with the best interests of the people as their top priority. Congressional oversight is required. 

I urge you to consider the concerns of the top consumer protection experts.  Their letter is below.

Sincerely,

Keith Ellison
Member of Congress

March 25, 2014

Dear Representative:

We are writing to express our deep concerns with the Camp-Baucus Fast Track bill (H.R. 3830/ S. 1900) because we believe it will undermine Congress’ ability to have a meaningful role in shaping trade agreement rules that will impact important federal and state consumer policies and protections. We urge you to consider a new form of trade authority that would help ensure that negotiated trade agreements do not jeopardize health, safety and financial protections important to consumers in the U.S. and abroad.

Today’s pending trade pacts, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), extend far beyond tariffs and quotas. They would set terms binding on future Congresses and state legislatures that could limit critical consumer safeguards relating to food safety and consumer labeling, financial regulation, data privacy, energy, medicine patents, safety standards for products ranging from autos to toys, and more.

Given the expansive scope of today’s agreements, a new trade authority mechanism must include negotiating objectives that promote high standards of consumer and environmental protection, and do not expose our existing policies to new threats. The Camp-Baucus bill does not meet these standards. It includes problematic negotiating objectives, such as requiring that regulations be based on cost-benefit analysis and risk assessment, that could undermine our existing safeguards on financial services, food and product safety and that could require the U.S. to accept goods and services that do not meet U.S. standards. The objectives expressed in the legislation could also result in extending patents monopolies that increase consumer medicine prices and subjecting the United States to unnecessary and procedurally flawed investor-state tribunals.

A new form of trade authority should also include meaningful Congressional involvement, including providing Congress with an explicit role in approving prospective negotiating partners and setting enforceable objectives, and involving more committees implicated by today’s trade pacts in the process of tracking negotiations. Congress should be able to have meaningful input into the negotiations while they are in progress. Finally, Congress should be allowed to certify that its negotiating objectives have been met before a trade pact can be signed.

We do not support the Camp-Baucus Fast Track bill and urge you to create a new 21st Century form of trade authority that ensures America’s future trade agreements harvest the benefits of expanded trade without undermining our critical consumer and environmental safeguards.

Sincerely, Rachel Weintraub

Legislative Director and Senior Counsel

Consumer Federation of America

Ellen Bloom

Senior Director of Federal Policy & Washington Office

Consumers Union

Sally Greenberg Executive Director

National Consumers League

 

Robert Weissman

President

Public Citizen

 

 

 

Andrew A. Rosenberg

Director

Center for Science and Democracy

Union of Concerned Scientists

Edmund Mierzwinski

Consumer Program Director

U.S. PIRG