Congressional Alert

UPDATE: Thursday, December 6, 2001
Unfortunately, the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) passed in the
House today by only one additional vote (this bill includes a
mandate for the USTR to negotiate TRIPs Plus agreements).

Hopefully we can work hard and together next year to ensure that the
Senate would change this text which is not acceptable for anybody
that cares about access to medicines. We need everybody's support.
This outcome proves that.

 

Fast Track trade authority gives the President sweeping powers to negotiate
trade agreements, meaning Congress gets only a thumbs-up or thumbs-down vote
once the Bush Administration has decided all the details. The Bush
Administration has continued to push harmful positions in FTAA, WTO and
other trade negotiations that would continue to block greater access to
HIV/AIDS medication, and Fast Track is a rubber-stamping of their
willingness to write off the lives of people with HIV worldwide.

The House GOP leadership has decided that it is "now or never" for a vote on
Fast Track. DeLay, Armey and company have announced that they have set the
date of a vote for Thursday, December 6th.

While they still do not have the votes lined up to pass Fast Track, they
hope that putting it on the calendar will force Members to take a position
with nasty GOP leadership coercion for those who refuse.

Meanwhile, a set date will push the corporate lobby to intensify its
efforts. Plus, the White House has also said all along that they would
become more involved once a date was set.

We have all been fighting incredibly hard over the last several months, and
victory is now within sight (but so is defeat...)! We know you're getting
tired (so are we!), but we have to escalate the opposition in the next SEVEN
DAYS to a whole new level!

The bottom line is:
- They do not have the votes and can only win if we let our victory slip away!
- The White House, the business lobby, the GOP leadership and all the other
"free-traders" will put enormous pressure on the Representatives. It will be
hard for some Members whose opposition votes are needed to stand up to these
forces. We MUST help them stand firm by reminding them that the people who
put them in office are counting on them to oppose Fast Track.

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CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE
1-800-393-1082 (courtesy of the AFL-CIO) or
1-888-832-4246 (courtesy of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce)
and express your opposition to Fast Track.
- Ask for the chief of staff, legislative director or the trade aide.
- Demand to know the Representative's position on H.R. 3005 (Fast Track)
legislation coming for a vote on December 6th.
- Please mention that you are calling as a person living with HIV or
concerned with the global AIDS epidemic, and who is not fooled by
un-enforcable language in the bill that directs the President to take health
concerns into account when negotiating trade agreements.

If they are AGAINST Fast Track, THANK them and ask for their commitment
in writing to be sent to you immediately.
If they are IN FAVOR of Fast Track, SLAM them - we'll remember next
November!
If they are UNDECIDED, PROVIDE INFORMATION along with a dose of
political persuasion.

VISIT ANY TOWN HALL MEETINGS or other public events that your Representative
is organizing and ask questions about Fast Track. Also arrange a meeting
directly with your Member or just drop by the district office (they have
office hours every weekend).

WRITE a letter-to-the-editor on why you oppose Fast Track in your local
paper. We can provide you with sample letters: gtwfield@citizen.org (let us
know what your particular interest is--labor, environment, food safety,
state sovereignty, etc).

Fast Track trade authority gives the President sweeping powers to negotiate trade agreements, meaning Congress gets only a thumbs-up or thumbs-down vote once the Bush Administration has decided all the details. The Bush Administration has continued to push harmful positions in FTAA, WTO and other trade negotiations that would continue to block greater access to HIV/AIDS medication, and fast track is a rubber-stamping of their willingness to write off the lives of people with HIV worldwide.

The interests of people with HIV are not served by giving up democratic decision-making on vital trade agreements that impact access to medicine... What folllows are two alerts with information on how to work to stop the political opportunists seeking to sneak through Fast Track during this difficult period after the September 11 attacks.

Note that you only need to know your Zip code to get connected to the right Representative via a toll-free number.

Please mention that you are calling as a person living with HIV or concerned with the global AIDS epidemic, and who is not fooled by un-enforcable language in the bill that directs the President to take health concerns into account when negotiating trade agreements.

For more information on US policies and trade issues that impact access to HIV/AIDS medication worldwide, check out www.globaltreatmentaccess.org

 

Let your Representative hear you loud & clear: NO FAST TRACK / NO H.R.3005!

_______________________________________________________________________________________

The corporate lobby (Business Round Table et al), the GOP leadership, the corporate media, editorial writers and now the White House have all agreed: Fast Track (H.R. 3005) is on their short list of votes they want to push through before Congress adjourns.

The GOP Leaders have said this for a while, but now the White House is in gear and the pro-Fast Track lobby has intensified its efforts in recent weeks. They view the upcoming 4thMinisterial of the World Trade Organization (WTO) from November 9-13 as an excellent excuse for setting a specific vote date to ram Fast Track through. We could see a possible floor vote as early as the week of November 5!

The corporate lobby and House GOP leaders have been fighting a desperate game for months of trying to dig up, bully up, shore up votes which - thanks to your excellent work - do not exist. Now they are started to playing hardball - offering deals and twisting arms in exchange for votes. As we know, this stage of a any trade bill push is a very dangerous time for us - weaselly Members have traded their votes in the past for empty promises.

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Talking Points (for more information on Fast Track visit www.tradewatch.org):

* This is not the time to bring up such a controversial issue. Few issues are more divisive than Fast Track at a time when we need the unity and bipartisanship that was created after September 11th. There are many urgent things that MUST BE done for the millions who are suddenly without a job, to safeguard us from future attacks.

* The Thomas bill (H.R. 3005) is a slap in the face - it is the same old anti-labor, anti-environmental garbage that was in the 1997 and 1998 Fast Track with some new rhetoric. It does not address the issues of labor and environment in any meaningful way, nor does it beef up Congress' role in trade to hold negotiators accountable and stop these NAFTA type deals.

* H.R. 3005 allows foreign corporations to challenge domestic environmental, zoning and other laws. Under NAFTA there have been lawsuits by foreign corporations challenging a whole array of democratically determined local policies, and Thomas' bill does nothing to address this (for more information go to http://www.citizen.org/publications/release.cfm?ID=7076).

* Toll-free number is provided courtesy of the AFL-CIO


 

The interests of people with HIV are not served by giving up
democratic decision-making on vital trade agreements
that impact access to medicine... What folllows are two alerts with
information on how to work to stop the political opportunists
seeking to sneak through Fast Track during this difficult period
after the September 11 attacks.

Please mention that you are calling as a person living with HIV or
concerned with the global AIDS epidemic, and who is not fooled by
un-enforcable language in the bill that directs the President to take
health concerns into account when negotiating trade agreements.

For more information on US policies and trade issues that impact
access to HIV/AIDS medication worldwide, check out
www.globaltreatmentaccess.org

 

This is no bi-partisan bill -- instead it is a lite-version of the truly offensive GOP Crane Fast Track bill. There are a few Democratic co-sponsors -- but these are Members who would have supported the original Crane bill and not some moderate Democrats. In fact, the vast majority of Democrats are disgusted with Thomas or his crass political profiteering and lack of bi-partisanship (see attached Dear Colleague letter from some leading Democrats in the House).

Thanks to the great work done by people like yourself around the country -- we have been able to stall of Fast Track. Now Thomas is playing a game of chicken. The Fast Track bill can only get momentum if there is a perception that there is no cost for moving forward. We need to do a sudden pile on to any and all swing members and also to Speaker Hastert.

Some talking points:

-> This is no time to bring up a controversial and divisive issue
like Fast Track. Congress needs to focus on issues
hat unites it, as well as the responses to the terrorist attacks.

-> Fast Track will set the terms of U.S. trade and investment
policies for the next 5-10 years and needs a
thoughtful and thorough debate.

-> There is nothing bi-partisan about Thomas' proposal, and does not
address in any meaningful way the
real negative impacts that trade agreements like NAFTA and the
WTO have had on jobs, the environment and our family farmers.

After you have called your own Member, call Speaker of the House Hastert and tell him how much you appreciate how he has been working to create a bi-partisan spirit in the House and that you hope that he will oppose this crass attempt by Thomas to break it. You can reach his office in DC at 202-225-2976
(or call the toll-free number and enter the zip-code for Hastert's district: 60510).

 

FAST TRACK ACTION ALERT!

In a surprise move, the House announced it will vote on Fast
Track/Trade Promotion Action this Friday! Please contact your
elected representatives immediately and express our opposition to
Fast Track using the talking points outlined below.

With the nation still in mourning following the tragic September 11
events, Rep. Bill Thomas (R-Cal.) chair, Ways and Means Committee, is
pushing Fast Track through committee and then taking it to the House
floor next week.

During today's press conference, Thomas took unseemly advantage of
recent terrorist attacks, arguing that the congress should support
his trade his bill in a national show unity.

Last week, Oxfam America signed on to a letter to the Speaker of the
House declaring that this is not an appropriate time for what is
certain to be a rancorous debate around fast track. The last
Administration failed twice to obtain fast track.

 

If the Member is in favor of Fast Track or is undecided, express your
firm opposition to the Thomas Fast Track. If the Member is firmly
against Fast Track, express your thanks for her/his position on the
issue.

Some talking points:

1. The Thomas bill is divisive and the country deserves a thorough
and thoughtful debate on this controversial issue-not a manipulative
rush to advance an unpopular free trade agenda.

2. The bill directs the President "to take into account" legitimate
health interests. This is meaningless and non-obligatory. It does
not address Oxfam's deep concerns about the lack of poor people's
access to affordable life saving medicines.

3. The environmental NGOs oppose the Thomas bill because it contains
meaningless phrases about "respecting" the environment;

4. Labor opposes it because it contains meaningless phrases about labor rights;

5. Oxfam America and other civil society organizations oppose the
Thomas bill because it forecloses our ability to participate and
influence democratic debate on issues that concern us.

 

 



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