House Passes Fast Track, Cook Votes No
In a reversal of last week’s vote, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on Thursday to approve fast track trade authority. The vote will allow the president to negotiate trade agreements, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, without input from Congress. If the bill passes in the Senate as expected, Congress would have a simple yes or no vote on trade agreements. Congress would not be able to amend the agreement.
Last week, Congressman Paul Cook, who represents Yucaipa and surrounding communities in the House, voted against fast track approval. He maintained his opposition to the bill, voting no again this week.
“I will continue to vote against TPA in all its forms and every time it’s brought up,” Cook said. “I’m absolutely against giving President Obama a blank check to negotiate trade deals in secret, and I believe that any trade deal should require a more inclusive and open process. Our Nation’s founding fathers wisely gave Congress exclusive authority over trade in the U.S. Constitution and that’s where the authority should stay.”
President Obama has been negotiating a trade partnership with a dozen countries in the Pacific, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The agreement has been controversial. Here in Yucaipa, community members have lobbied the city council to send a letter to lawmakers urging them to reject fast track trade authority and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell vowed last week that they would take up fast track again after it failed.
Also on Thursday, Rep. Paul Cook’s Work for Warriors program passed in the House. The program creates a pilot program to put veterans back to work. The program has placed 2,400 guardsmen in jobs, reducing Guard unemployment by 25 percent.
“The Work for Warriors program in California has been hugely successful and cost effective,” Cook said. “I hope this legislation will replicate the success we’ve had in California.”
Cook also thanked Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-CA), Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA) and Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) for their work on the bill.