First and foremost, congratulations on months and months of amazing, creative, persistent hard work. The grassroots fight against Fast Track was the most impressive fair trade field ever. It has been an honor and pleasure working with you and we look forward to doing so in the future.
We have our future work cut out for us (FTAA, WTO here we come!) but despite the horrific outcome this afternoon, the progress made in this vote are something we should all be very proud of.
If we can, from under our barstools, put this vote into context: Think back to 1991's Fast Track fight - when we lost a wide swath of those who claimed to be pro-labor, pro-enviroment, pro-democracy including many many Democrats. Year by year, fight by fight we have reshaped the entire debate on trade and globazation in this country. Going into the future we now have new Congressional and organizational allies committed to a progressive vision on trade. And, if you think forward to the long term consequences of such a partisan, narrow, nasty Fast Track vote while we sufferred a gruesome loss today, it is a pyrhhic victory for the corporate managed trade lobby given how it leave the Congres polarized and bitter (see our attached news release).
That being said - the outcome this afternoon totally sucks! Fast Track passed by only one vote 215-214, with 197 of the votes for Fast Track coming from Republicans - including a bloc of Republicans "yes" votes coming from longtime foes of Fast Track, NAFTA and WTO. The GOP could not have passed this retrograde trade legislation absent the current national emergency and we will remember this for what it is - crass political profiteering.
We have been working on trade votes for 12 years and we have NEVER seen anything like this. WE WERE ALL ROBBED! As you all probably watched on CSPAN with growing nausea, after we had won 215-214, the Speaker kept the vote "open" for 42 minutes and the GOP leadership then prowled the floor seeking arms to break. The weakest link was one Jim DeMint from the Carolinas (hopefully soon to have a new job outside of elected office) who switched his vote and brought us down to 214 and them up to 215. Meanwhile, before anyone could talk to any other members about fixing this robbery of our victory, you saw the gavel slam down closing the vote at the moment that switched vote registered. UNBELIEVABLE...
Of course, you might ask: how did we get to a one vote margin ANYWAY! Mainly thanks to the traitorous bloc of GOP who were committed to us and who have voted against the entire alphabet soup of trade deals (NAFTA, WTO, AGOA, CBI, PNTR) who violated their ideological stands against "free" trade and/or in numerous cases totally screwed their local constituencies, farmers and indsutries by caving for a gruesome "rally around the President or else" strategy. In every calculation we made, we could NOT forsee the likes of Ney, Souder, Barr, Hunter, Rohrabacher, Pombo, Hayes and Everett peeling off. And, we had firm commitments from Sue Kelley, Riley, and Hilleary who rolled us. These guys going for Fast Track and the stark absence of traditional Democratic "free trade" votes for this bill (thanks to your work in the field!) exposes today's action as more of the Republicans' exploitation of the war on terrorism to manipulate passage of backward, corporate boondoggles for their campaign contributors. This partisan slime fest - which also resulted in politically suicidal yes votes from many Pennsylvania and North and South Carolina GOP - did not overcome the excellent work done by many of you. We got folks like West Virginia's GOP freshman Capito, Curt Weldon in Pennsylvania and freshman Simmons in Connecticut.
Sadly, part of how we got down to the one vote margin is also a few bad bad news Democrats. Keeping the Democratic vote for Fast Track to 21 is no small feat. But, we should have not been over 16 Dems for FT. It is accountability time espeically for: Susan Davis in San Diego, Florida's Jim Davis, North Carolina's Etheridge, Utah's Mattheson, Texas Dems Hinojosa and Bentsen, and Kansas' Dennis Moore (the man who went to a 1 PM news conf against Fast Track and then voted for it - adding yet another offense to his PNTR screw job on us).
Meanwhile, take pride in getting the votes of the Democrats who came home to us at the end through tremendous efforts such as Blumenauer, the California Dem women, Price, Kind did the right thing by us while Arkansas Rep Berry and Texas Rep. Chet Edwards deserve flowers from us all and thanks for taking really really hard votes to be with us at the very end despite serious political problems in their districts for doing the right thing (Unlike the 6 noted above for whom it was not politically perilous to vote no, but SHOULD be a perilous election year for voting yes).
Given the sort of unprecedented FOP dirty fighting, to have come this close to beating the multi-million dollar campaign put on by unholy triumvirate of the GOP House leadership, the Bush Administration and multinational corporations is a testament to the incredible power and resourcefulness of the grassroots (i.e. YOU!).
This vote was dead in the water before the terrorist attacks and they only got it passed by Republcans in Congress seduced with the line about shaming a wartime President. Even within the wartime context, they could only pass the bill by one vote and that was in part because we had two of our votes our on medical emergencies and one fly home this AM to be with a stricken parent. (The votes we needed were out of town. Meanwhile, Alaskans and brothers and sisters of the labor movement who Don Young calls his friends, the man switched sides this AM to a yes vote and had to be urged to miss the vote!)
That the possibility of passing FastTrack was only revived by a state of war and then it was only passed by a ONE VOTE margin today certainly makes a mockery of the propaganda campaign concerning the globalization movement's post-Sept. 11 demise, to say nothing of the hundreds of rallies and protests worldwide during the WTO's Doha Ministerial last month and the 1997 and 1998 fights where Fast Track was stopped; 1998 when we tanked the MAI and in 1999, the planned WTO expansion was halted at the "Battle of Seattle."
Everyone get a few days of well-deserved R&R. We will be back to you next week with more analysis of the vote and some ideas of how we move forward. And of course, we are all here by phone tommorrow (Friday) awaiting your calls - we are here for commiseration, inquiries, plotting, etc.
Again, its been an honor and a blast and now - let's get ready to hold the traitors accountable, thank the good guys and start concocting our next next strategies.
Lori M. Wallach
Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch
215 Pennsylvania Ave SE
Washington, DC USA 20003