Today, I joined with several of my colleagues in voting against the rule for the bill. We actually were only two votes away from stopping the rule vote from passing, and only lost because GOP leadership were able to convince a handful of Democrats to switch sides at the last second.
There are dozens of reasons why I opposed the rule. For starters, we’re taking up the Senate passed TPA bill. The Senate bill raises revenue. According to the Constitution, revenue raising bills must originate in the House. But the rule vote prohibits House Members from making a point of order to stop the legislation. The rule also prohibits us from objecting to the budget gimmickry and procedural games filled within the language of TPA. For example, in one section of the bill it makes changes to a government program to save tax dollars in order to offset to spending in another area and make the overall legislation budget neutral. However, a separate section repeals the change, but leaves the new spending on the books. This is just dishonest, no matter how you look at it and contributes to the reason people simply don’t trust Washington. Even a member of leadership was quoted yesterday saying that this process concerns him.
I’ve heard the arguments for TPA. “This gives Congress more negotiating power.” “Fast-track can be turned off if we don’t like the agreement that the President gives us.” These are both true, if we believe that Republican Leadership is going to fight harder for a good trade deal than they have against the President’s unlawful executive actions. These are also true if we trust President Obama to follow a “gentleman’s agreement” as I’ve heard it called, even though he won’t follow the Constitution.
I don’t trust Washington to get this right, and that is why I took the extraordinary step of voting against the rule. I plan on continuing my opposition against the final passage of TPA.