While media attention has surrounded the events in Baltimore, the Obama administration has taken part in the negotiations of a Trans-Pacific Partnership involving 12 countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States, and Vietnam. The countries involved comprise around $27.7 trillion in gross domestic product (around 40% of the global GDP). A successful implementation of this partnership would result in about $110 billion per country per year.
Not bad, right?void of criticism, it has gathered support from an unlikely alliance between congressional Republicans and the Obama administration. Many members of the GOP are by nature supportive of free trade agreements as they open up trade regulations and decrease barriers for imports.
This has put some members of the GOP in a tough position. On one hand is a policy they support and on the other is having to agree with the Obama administration. Hmm, what to do? Hey what if the TPP was just a front for the administration to sneak in undocumented workers? Bingo!
Just like that members of the Republican caucus began whispers about the slight-of-hand that was being orchestrated by the White House. What is different and perhaps encouraging is the response from rank-and-file Republicans in Congress:
“There’s nothing in this bill that applies to immigration, and we’ve been assured by the administration that there will be nothing in any of the trade pacts that will involve immigration…” – Sen. Orin Hatch (R-Utah)
Even U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) called allegations of the TPP being a backdoor amnesty grab an “urban legend.”
Still, some members of the GOP are sticking with the claim that there might be immigration concessions imbedded in the TPP. The ring leader of this narrative is U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama). In a memo to his colleagues, Mr. Sessions wrote:
“There are numerous ways TPA could facilitate immigration increases above current law — and precious few ways anyone in Congress could stop its happening.”
As of now, to get the TPP through Congress, congressional Republicans will have to work overtime to keep their members in line and the White House will have to persuade around 20 Democrats to go along with the proposal.