BREAKING: Senate Passes ‘Fast Track’, Sends It To White House

The Senate voted Wednesday to approve “fast-track” trade authority, sending the bill to the White House for President Obama’s signature.

The bill to authorize Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) passed 60 to 38, The Hill reported. A vote to end debate was held Tuesday. After the president signs the bill into law, he will be able to present any trade bill to Congress for a straight up-or-down vote — without fear of any amendments or filibusters. TPA will last until 2018 and can be extended through 2021.

“We had plenty of bumps along the road. Frankly, a few big potholes too,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said ahead of the vote Wednesday. “But we worked across the aisle to get through all of them. That’s an example of a new Congress that’s back to work for the American people.”

With TPA’s inevitable signature, Obama will be able to present several global trade agreements to Congress. Chief among them is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade agreement with 12 Asian and Central American countries. Details of TPP have been kept behind closed doors, noted Edward-Isaac Dovere of Politico.

If you want to hear the details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal the Obama administration is hoping to pass, you’ve got to be a member of Congress, and you’ve got to go to classified briefings and leave your staff and cellphone at the door.

Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., a staunch opponent of TPA and TPP, excoriated the bill’s passage. “The same routine plays out over and again,” Sessions said in a statement. “We are told a massive bill must be passed, all the business lobbyists and leaders tell us how grand it will be, but that it must be rushed through before the voters spoil the plan.”

President Obama, and allies in Congress, have won this fast-track vote. But, in exchange, they may find that they are losing something far greater: the trust of the American people. Americans have a fundamental, decent, and just demand: that the people they elect defend their interests. And every issue to come before us in the coming months will have to pass this test: does it strengthen, or weaken, the position of the everyday, loyal American citizen?

After TPA, the upper chamber held a vote which passed easily on cloture for a trade package renewing Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), which funds workers affected by trade agreements.

Are you fed up with both political parties? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Ted Cruz Just Changed Course In A HUGE Way That Will Make Both Obama And Top GOP Furious

The legislation that’s come to be known as Obamatrade is facing a crucial procedural vote in the Senate today, and one GOP lawmaker who previously supported the bill has now turned against it. Charging that the controversial Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) that President Obama so dearly wants is “enmeshed in corrupt Washington backroom deal-making,” Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is putting his boot down — saying “enough is enough” — and vowing to vote against Obamatrade.

In an exclusive post for Breitbart, the 2016 GOP presidential contender credits WikiLeaks with revealing key information that helped to change his mind about the fast-track trade authority Obama has been twisting arms to acquire.

…WikiLeaks subsequently revealed new troubling information regarding the Trade in Services Agreement, or TiSA, one of the trade deals being negotiated by Obama.

Despite the administration’s public assurances that it was not negotiating on immigration, several chapters of the TiSA draft posted online explicitly contained potential changes in federal immigration law. TPA would cover TiSA, and therefore these changes would presumably be subject to fast-track.

In the Breitbart op-ed, Cruz goes on to blast the leadership of his own party — particularly Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner — for quietly cutting deals with Democrats to win votes for Obamatrade.

“Why does Republican Leadership always give in to the Democrats? Why does Leadership always disregard the promises made to the conservative grassroots?”

Long a favorite of grassroots and tea party conservatives, Cruz has reportedly sent the fast-track TPA legislation to the brink of defeat in the Senate with his about-face decision to oppose it.

Senate GOP leaders have scheduled a vote for today, Tuesday, on advancing a new version of the fast-track bill that was recently approved by the House — it’s a procedural vote that will require 60 votes to pass.

Western Journalism has published a number of posts on what TPA would mean for Obama’s continued expansion of executive power, including a recent opinion piece by KrisAnne Hall in which she warned of the formidable power Obama would enjoy if TPA makes it out of the Congress and to his desk for his signature.

TPA is an authority granted to the president to engage in “executive agreements” with foreign countries. What is that actually? Well, simply put, it is the power of Executive Orders for international agreements.

“Executive agreements” are not the same as treaties, the “experts” claim, because they do not carry “Constitutional authority.” However, the “experts” will tell you that even though they do not carry the power of Constitutional law, they carry the power of International law.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Why America Hates The GOP-Obamatrade Deal

Constitutional conservatives don’t like it. Trade unions abhor it. Obama critics hate it. Environmentalists despise it.

Outside the Beltway bubble, a broad coalition of voters from the left, right, and center oppose the mega-trade deal getting rammed through Congress this week by the Republican establishment on behalf of the White House. Here’s why.

The Obama administration, House GOP leader John Boehner, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have sold out American sovereignty. Their so-called Trans-Pacific Partnership Commission will have sweeping authority over trade, immigration, environmental, labor, and commerce regulations.

As alert watchdogs U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., chairman of the Subcommittee on Immigration and the National Interest, and U.S. Rep Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., warn: “By adopting fast-track, Congress would be formally authorizing the President to finalize the creation of this Pacific Union and will have surrendered its legislative prerogatives. Before a word, line, paragraph, or page of this plan is made public, Congress will have agreed to give up its treaty powers. … In effect, one of the most sweeping international agreements seen in years will be given less legislative scrutiny and process than a Post Office reform bill.”

The Obama administration, House GOP leader John Boehner, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have sold out legislative transparency. Boehner smugly asserts that so-called Trade Promotion Authority puts Congress in charge and promotes “more openness” on trade talks. Nonsense. Under the Boehner/Obama plan, Congress gives up its ability to amend any trade deals under fast track, severely limits the ability to debate, and lowers the vote threshold in the Senate from 61 to 51. The 11 international parties negotiating with Obama on TPP refuse to sign their dotted lines until Congress agrees to pre-agree to behemoth global trade pacts — sight unseen.

As Obamatrade cheerleader and Big Business crony Sen. Orrin Hack, I mean Hatch, admitted, “I don’t know fully what’s in TPP myself.”

The secretive wheeling and dealing on the massive 29-chapter draft (kept under classified lock-and-key and only a tiny portion of which has been publicly disclosed through WikiLeaks) make the backroom Obamacare negotiations look like a gigantic solar flare of openness and public deliberation. Fast-track Republicans, who rightfully made a stink when Nancy Pelosi declared that “we have to pass the [Obamacare] bill so that you can find out what is in it,” now have no transparency legs to stand on.

The Obama administration, House GOP leader John Boehner, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have sold out our immigration priorities. Both parties have put cheap labor from illegal immigrants before American workers. Both parties support massive increases in foreign temporary worker programs that favor cheap tech workers from India and China over highly educated, highly skilled American workers who are forced to train their replacements. Both parties back fraud-plagued green card giveaway programs for wealthy immigrant investors that amount to a crony “economic development” racket. More Obamatrade documents disclosed by WikiLeaks indicate that negotiators have discussed unilateral changes to U.S. worker protections in visa law, processing times, and temporary visa expiration dates.

Supporting free enterprise in America does not mean supporting a global free-for-all for every last $2.00/hour entry-level foreign tech journeyman. Past free-trade pacts have failed to live up to their overhyped promises. University of Maryland economist Peter Morici notes that under Obama’s free trade pact with South Korea, imports with that country “are up 3.6 billion” while “U.S. exports are down marginally and the U.S. trade deficit with the Asian nation has swelled to 5 billion.”

Meanwhile, he reports, our wage-suppressing $350 billion bilateral trade deficit with China “costs American workers at least 3 million jobs” and several Asian countries now negotiating TPP “have violated WTO and International Monetary Fund rules by purposefully undervaluing their currencies to subsidize exports and raise prices for otherwise competitive U.S. products in their markets.”

Here is what those of us against the GOP-Obamatrade bills can all agree on: Both political parties in Washington are screwing over our country. American citizens are sick and tired of the permanent ruling class subverting the will of the people in the name of “bipartisanship.” We’ve had enough of Big Business betrayals and Big Government collusion.

What part of “Stop selling out America!” does D.C. not understand?

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The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Breaking: The Senate Just Approved The Controversial New Measure Obama Wanted

The U.S. Senate voted today to pass the USA Freedom Act, which passed the House a few weeks ago. The vote was 67 to 32. The bill will now go to President Barack Obama, who tweeted earlier today that he will sign the legislation as soon as it reaches his desk.

Obama Tweet NSA

The act renews key provisions of the Patriot Act, which lapsed over the weekend.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, one of the ‘no’ votes, had hoped to amend the USA Freedom Act to eliminate some of the reforms it contains that were designed to provide greater control over government surveillance programs; however, the Senate rejected all amendments and passed the House version.

Of the 32 votes against passage of the bill, 30 were Republicans. (See the roll call vote here.)

One of the major reforms in the USA Freedom Act concerns the bulk collection of metadata (i.e. Americans’ phone records).

As reported by Fox News, the act, when it becomes law, will:

-Resume the National Security Administration’s (NSA) data collection program, but only for a transition period of six months. After that, the legislation would no longer allow the NSA to sweep up Americans’ records in bulk. Instead, it would leave the records with phone companies and give the government the ability to seek access with a warrant.

-Continue other post-9/11 surveillance provisions that also lapsed Sunday night. These include the FBI’s authority to gather business records in terrorism and espionage investigations and to more easily eavesdrop on suspects who are discarding cellphones to avoid surveillance.

-Create a panel to provide the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court with guidance on privacy and civil liberties matters.

-Increase transparency for the surveillance court’s decisions.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., filibustered the renewal of the Patriot Act over the weekend, arguing that certain provisions violated Americans’ Fourth Amendment protection from unlawful searches and seizures. The senator voted against the USA Freedom Act on Tuesday, arguing the bill does not go far enough to protect Americans’ privacy.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Death Sentence For The Patriot Act Means New Life For GOP

It looks like the ironically named Patriot Act is finally set to expire despite the best efforts of some of Washington’s worst scoundrels, specifically the sitting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who watched his futile attempts at extending the Patriot Act get crushed by the Senate on Saturday.

This decision of the Senate to block the extension of several sections of the Patriot Act, which allows the NSA to spy on innocent citizens, comes at the end of a tumultuous week of political action–most notably from Senator Rand Paul, who delivered an inspiring 11-hour filibuster last Wednesday where he decried the NSA’s phone snooping and blamed the Obama administration for allowing these affronts against the Constitution to take place.

Rand Paul certainly didn’t pull any punches as he spoke. He stated that “the bulk collection of all Americans’ phone records all of the time is a direct violation of the fourth amendment.” And he’s not the only one who thinks so. The Second Circuit Court ruled that Section 215, the heart and soul of the Patriot Act that allows the NSA to collect data, is illegal and unconstitutional.

And while this might seem like cause for celebration, the fight isn’t over yet. Discussion over the Patriot Act in the Senate will be renewed on May 31, and part of that discussion will involve a possible reform measure called The Freedom Act.

The Freedom Act is being touted by its supporters among the political elite and mainstream media as a good compromise, a bill that assures national security but doesn’t infringe on any individual rights. The Freedom Act would extend the lapsing provisions of the Patriot Act but would theoretically apply some checks and balances on the government by forcing authorities to seek records from phone companies rather than collect data in bulk.

And who are two of the biggest supporters of this “new” measure? President Obama and the NSA! Sorry, but I for one am not about to fall for the same trick twice.

The debates on May 31 will surely hinge on the fate of the now-infamous Section 215, which is set to lapse June 1. Section 215, also known as the business records provision, allows the government to ask companies to turn over the metadata they hold on their customers. Mitch McConnell insists that without a renewal of the Patriot Act as is, our national security would be dealt a killer blow. But let’s look at the facts: there is no documentation to suggest that the Patriot Act has ever been effective. In fact, a recent audit conducted by the Department of Justice Inspector General and the FBI could not determine a single crisis that was averted or extinguished through bulk data collection! Nevertheless, the FBI still expanded the use of that section more than 50 times in a three-year period, showing once more that the government simply cannot be entrusted with such far-reaching powers.

The Patriot Act is part of the same old lie that big government has been peddling since the days of the founding fathers; it is the lie that safety and security can be bought at the expense of freedom. And with the 2016 election knocking at the door, it is paramount that the People elect someone who understands the very real threat that the Patriot Act and other like-minded bills pose to our core national values of personal responsibility and individual liberty.

So far, it’s been hard to ignore the fact that Rand Paul is the loudest spokesman against the Patriot Act and the main patron of freedom from within the GOP’s ranks–especially when his fellow Republicans and presidential nominees Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and Marco Rubio have been staunch defenders of the NSA and the Freedom Act. It may all be a campaign stunt, meant to deliver a jolt to his flagging ratings; but this is a conversation the American public should be having.

Whether he’s the leader we need is for the country to decide, but one thing’s for sure: if the GOP is going to take the White House in the upcoming election, then we need to be united in standing up for the values central to the Republican Party. And coming out strong against the Patriot Act seems like the perfect place to start.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth