Could Anti-Climate Amendment Torpedo Fast Track?

Last-minute anti-climate effort led by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) slammed by green groups and some lawmakers

By Sarah Lazare

Environmental groups have long (warned) of the dangers Fast Track poses to the environment. Now they have solid proof.

With the controversial House Fast Track vote expected to take place Friday, an 11th-hour GOP effort to forbid U.S. trade officials from taking action on climate change has raised the fury of environmental groups and lawmakers, as well as hopes that the unpopular legislation could be torpedoed altogether.

Sponsored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), chair of the Ways and Means Committee, an amendment was inserted late Tuesday into a customs and trade bill currently being weighed alongside Fast Track legislation, known as Trade Promotion Authority.

The language is designed “to ensure that trade agreements do not require changes to U.S. law or obligate the United States with respect to global warming or climate change.”

But political observers see it as a last-ditch attempt to get reticent Republicans on-board.

As the National Journal reports, Ryan is “working hard to win Republican support for the trade bill. Doug Andres, a spokesman for the House Committee on Ways and Means, said that the climate-change amendment acts as an olive branch for House Republicans fearful that the president might use his trade negotiating power to take action on climate change.”

Critics say, in the midst of a climate crisis, it is outrageous that Ryan would seek to tie a trade representative’s hands, especially given the broad scope of the multiple corporate-friendly deals currently under negotiation: the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, and Trade in Services Agreement.

“President Obama needs to make it clear that ‘21st century trade deals’ cannot block climate action,” said Luísa Abbott Galvão of Friends of the Earth. “The president should start by telling Republican leadership and the public that the provision in the customs amendment is unacceptable.”

“President Obama cannot credibly claim that trade deals will force other countries to raise their environmental standards if he allows the same deals to secure a pass for the U.S. to keep dumping carbon into the planet’s atmosphere,” Galvão added.

The Fast Track legislation was already opposed by civil society and social movement groups around the U.S. and world—who criticize it as a tool for ramming through secret corporate-friendly deals, at the expense of people and the planet.

Karthik Ganapathy of said that this latest move could jeopardize Fast Track altogether: “Forbidding U.S. negotiators from ever addressing climate change in trade deals might might win over a couple of votes on the far right, but it’ll lose many more in the center and on the left because the new language is a disaster for our climate.”

Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) derided the maneuver, declaring, “Now Republicans want to use [Fast Track] to prevent any new climate change standards in our trade deals.”

All eyes are on the vote, expected to take place Friday, with many high-profile politicians, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), remaining mum on how they will vote.

Patrick Woodall of Food & Water Watch declared in a press statement Thursday, “With Fast Track for the Trans-Pacific Partnership now on its way to the House floor, it’s time for our Representatives to stand up to the so-called free trade attacks on common sense protections for public health, the environment and consumers.”


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  1. June 11, 2015 at 8:12 pm

    Call your House critters, peeps…!

  2. June 11, 2015 at 9:23 pm

    Progressive Caucus’ Grijalva, while railing against the TPP, opted not to name names of the Democrats who are intending to vote for this neoliberal POS.

    In my book that makes him an unserious Progressive or, better yet, a serious gatekeeper for the neoliberal, dismal Dem party.

  3. Chris Maukonen
    June 11, 2015 at 9:26 pm

    I know my house critter will not vote for it. But that so many democrats are on board shows where that party is headed.

  4. June 11, 2015 at 9:26 pm

    Won’t help.

    The duopoly rigs the game to perfection. Nancy will whip up whatever number of Dems will be required to push this thing through.

  5. June 11, 2015 at 9:28 pm


    It’s been a right wing gatekeeper party since the 60’s.

  6. dubinsky
    June 11, 2015 at 9:49 pm

    Could Anti-Climate Amendment Torpedo Fast Track?——

    not likely.

  7. stella blue
    June 11, 2015 at 10:35 pm

    The fix is in. They’ll be just enough votes to get it passed. They’ll do a few superficial changes and say it’s fixed. Just like the NSA.

  8. June 11, 2015 at 11:28 pm

    He should have first pressured her on Fast Track itself.

  9. AshenLight
    June 12, 2015 at 12:48 am

    Almost certainly.

    Have to admit though that I’m amused how the right is marketing this. After all these years of screaming about how Obama is a dictator who is usurping their power and subverting the constitution, how do you sell “let’s cede our authority to him, stat!” to your base?

  10. June 12, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    They have the votes. This is all the illusion of being against it. Heard this so many times from the Lemmingcrats: On the Bush Tax cuts vote, Obysmal Care vote. They always cave

    So many of the Dims are going to vote for this and then retire. They know that Peace Prize’s lead coattails and Hillary’s “meh” candidacy are going to make it very difficult for them in 2016

    Why not sell out now to cash out later?

    Ka-ching a ling a ling$

  11. June 12, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    Grijalava is a toothless Progtard. Him and Ellison are beyond weak. Back benchers when they should be calling the shots.

    It’s over for the Dems after this. Hopefully they will go the way of the Whigs in 2016.

  12. June 12, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    Light little jab from Hillary’s sparring partner. How about attacking her on her corrupt pay for play foundation? Do you want to win or just settle for hogging the spotlight a little till Her Majesty has had enough?

  13. June 12, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    Bernie Sanders defines loyal opposition. His job is to carry this out for the appearance of a competitive (rather than captured) Primary. Bow out, when ordered, and deliver his votes on to Hillary by embracing MOAR Lesser of Two Evils for his supporters.

    Mark my words. He will do just that in the end.

  14. June 12, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    That’s because Obama caucuses with the Republicans and has since the beginning.

    At lot like why ISIS never attacks Israel:

    Obama saves all his Heavy Manners for Democrats. Parties with the Republicans.

    Barack W. Bushama

  15. June 12, 2015 at 2:46 pm
  16. June 12, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    Seeing a lot of jubilation that this was “defeated”. But in this Presidency I have become accustomed to seeing defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.

    We gonna get Obamatrade Lite like we got Patriot Act Lite with the USA Freedumb Act replacement?

    As usual, I see my glass of hemlock half empty

  17. solerso
    June 12, 2015 at 3:30 pm

    TAA VOTE FAILED!!! YAAAAAAAAAAY….BUT!! the house look like they might be trying to pull the same scam they pulled in the senate..Boner pulled a motion to reconsider and they vote again next week. The pressure must be intensified and behalf of the people.

  18. solerso
    June 12, 2015 at 3:31 pm


  19. Bill Rood
    June 13, 2015 at 2:02 pm

    Clearly, there area about 20 or do Democrats who need to be primaried in 2016. Who’s going to step to the plate?

  20. Bill Rood
    June 13, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    Yup. I actually voted no before I voted yes.