by C. Robert Gibson and Taylor Channing
27 May 2015
protest against the legislation to give Obama fast-track authority
to advance trade
deals, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Critics of the controversial
are unlikely to be silenced by
of the flood of money it took
to push the pact
over its latest hurdle.
A decade in the making, the controversial Trans-Pacific
is reaching its climax and as Congress hotly debates the biggest
trade deal in a generation, its backers have turned on the cash
spigot in the hopes of getting it passed.
"We're very much in the endgame," US
trade representative Michael Froman told reporters over the
weekend at a meeting of the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic
Cooperation forum on the resort island of Boracay.
His comments came days after TPP passed
crucial vote in the Senate.
That vote, to give
Barack Obama the
authority to speed the bill through Congress, comes as the
president's own supporters, senior economists and a host of
activists have lobbied against a pact they argue will favor big
harm US jobs, fail to secure better conditions for
workers overseas and undermine
free speech online.
Those critics are unlikely to be
silenced by an analysis of the sudden flood of money it took to push
the pact over its latest hurdle.
Fast-tracking the TPP, meaning its
passage through Congress without having its contents available for
debate or amendments, was only possible after lots of corporate
money exchanged hands with senators. The US Senate passed Trade
Promotion Authority (TPA) - the fast-tracking bill -
by a 65-33 margin on 14 May.
Last Thursday, the Senate voted 62-38 to
bring the debate on TPA to a close.
Those impressive majorities follow
months of behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealing by the world's most
well-heeled multinational corporations with just a handful of
Using data from the Federal Election
this chart shows all donations that corporate members of the
US Business Coalition for TPP made to US Senate campaigns
between January and March 2015, when fast-tracking the TPP was being
debated in the Senate:
Out of the total $1,148,971
given, an average of $17,676.48 was donated to each of the
65 "yea" votes.
The average Republican member
received $19,673.28 from corporate TPP supporters.
The average Democrat received
$9,689.23 from those same donors.
The amounts given rise dramatically when
looking at how much each senator running for re-election received.
Two days before the fast-track vote,
a few votes shy of having the filibuster-proof majority he
Ron Wyden and seven other Senate
Democrats announced they were on the fence on 12 May, distinguishing
themselves from the Senate's 54 Republicans and handful of Democrats
as the votes to sway.
In just 24 hours, Wyden and five
of those Democratic holdouts:
Michael Bennet of Colorado
Dianne Feinstein of
Claire McCaskill of
Patty Murray of Washington
Bill Nelson of
caved and voted for fast-track
Bennet, Murray, and Wyden - all
running for re-election in 2016 - received $105,900 between
the three of them. Bennet, who comes from the more purple
state of Colorado, got $53,700 in corporate campaign
donations between January and March 2015, according to
Almost 100% of the Republicans
in the US Senate voted for fast-track - the only two
non-votes on TPA were a Republican from Louisiana and a
Republican from Alaska.
Senator Rob Portman of
Ohio, who is the former US trade representative, has been
one of the loudest proponents of the TPP.
(In a comment
to the Guardian Portman's office said: "Senator Portman is
not a vocal proponent of TPP - he has said it's still being
negotiated and if and when an agreement is reached he will
review it carefully.")
He received $119,700 from 14 different
corporations between January and March, most of which comes
from donations from Goldman Sachs ($70,600), Pfizer
($15,700), and Procter & Gamble ($12,900).
expected to run against former Ohio governor Ted Strickland
in 2016 in one of the most politically competitive states in
Seven Republicans who voted
"yea" to fast-track and are also running for re-election
next year cleaned up between January and March. Senator
Johnny Isakson of Georgia received $102,500 in corporate
Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, best known for
proposing a Monsanto-written bill in 2013 that became known
Monsanto Protection Act, received $77,900 - $13,500 of
which came from Monsanto.
Arizona senator and former
presidential candidate John McCain received $51,700 in the
first quarter of 2015. Senator Richard Burr of North
Carolina received $60,000 in corporate donations.
Eighty-one-year-old senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who is
running for his seventh Senate term, received $35,000.
Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, who will be running for
his first full six-year term in 2016, received $67,500 from
"It's a rare thing for members of
Congress to go against the money these days," said Mansur Gidfar,
spokesman for the anti-corruption group Represent.Us.
"They know exactly which special
interests they need to keep happy if they want to fund their
reelection campaigns or secure a future job as a lobbyist.
"How can we expect politicians who
routinely receive campaign money, lucrative job offers, and
lavish gifts from special interests to make impartial decisions
that directly affect those same special interests?" Gidfar said.
"As long as this kind of
transparently corrupt behavior remains legal, we won't have a
government that truly represents the people."