Congress is being urged to approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade plan even though most have not read it and a leading gun rights activist says the plan could give President Obama the power to limit the importation of ammunition and implement his political agenda in many different ways.
“Fast track authority in the context of this treaty means a blank check,” said Gun Owners of America Executive Director Larry Pratt.
“By a majority vote, the Congress is preparing to give the president authorization to negotiate a treaty. When he brings it back, it would take two thirds of the Senate to vote it down because of the way they set up the parliamentary system,” said Pratt.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, debate is made even more bizarre by the intense secrecy surrounding the proposed treaty. A Politico article described the hoops lawmakers must jump through just to see the bill.
“If you want to hear the details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal the Obama administration is hoping to pass, you’ve got to be a member of Congress, and you’ve got to go to classified briefings and leave your staff and cellphone at the door,” stated the article by Edward-Isaac Dovere.
“If you’re a member who wants to read the text, you’ve got to go to a room in the basement of the Capitol Visitor Center and be handed it one section at a time, watched over as you read, and forced to hand over any notes you make before leaving,” Dovere continued. “And no matter what, you can’t discuss the details of what you’ve read.”
Pratt is appalled that the public is getting no chance to weigh in on TPP.
“This is incredible. This is the administration that advertised itself as the most transparent that there ever would be. Give me a break. This is really going to the other extreme. Where is the objection just on procedure, let alone any of the details,” said Pratt.
If the terms of TPP are under lock and key, how does Pratt know that Obama is poised to restrict ammunition imports?
“I don’t know that it’s there. I’m just assuming that a guy that’s done everything he can heretofore with his pen, as he said he would do, will do it again when he’s given a blank check,” said Pratt, who says second amendment defenders aren’t the only ones who should be worried.
“It’s not just guns. We could be talking about any number of other subjects where the president could just go hog wild,” he said. “For people who say, ‘Just because you haven’t seen the treaty, why are you objecting?’ Wait a minute, the only time anybody will be able to see the treaty is when it’s too late to do anything.”
For Pratt, this comes down to Congress placing faith in a president who has proven he’s unworthy of it.
“This is a president who can’t be trusted to do anything. We know that. He’s not a truthful man. The idea that they would give him a blank check that he could write all kinds of firearms import and export restrictions into a treaty with Pacific nations, what are they thinking?” asked Pratt.
Pratt says he’s generally supportive of free trade. He says there is a simple solution to this problem but lawmakers don’t seem interested in it.
“Amend it now, while it’s in a regular bill fashion and send him his authority minus gun-grabbing opportunity. So far all we get back is crickets,” said Pratt.
“It’s a little upsetting to me that we have such a compliant, supine Congress that the president, apparently rightly, figures he can just wrap around his finger and do what he wants,” he said.
The gun lobby has been very effective at beating back previous Obama administration attempts at gun control. A Democratically-controlled Senate failed to approve expanded background checks in 2013. A few months ago, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, or ATF, sought to ban certain types of ammunition, particularly those commonly used in AR-15s. An avalanche of public opposition forced the ATF to back off.
But Pratt isn’t so sure about the outcome of this battle. Do gun rights supporters have the votes to stop or change TPP?
“I don’t think we do in the Senate and I’m not sure about the House,” he said, urging Americans to get involved in lobbying their members of Congress.
“This horse is standing right by the door, ready to bolt. Hopefully people are going to be stepping up their contacts with members of Congress. I’m fairly confident predicting that if we give the president an opportunity to stick it to the second amendment, he will do it,” said Pratt.