Eleven years ago, Congressman Xavier Becerra (District 34) had good positions on various issues: he was a vocal opponent of George W. Bush's then-pending Iraq invasion and the Patriot Act. Now, however, he supports fast-tracking the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership). When asked why, he said he's supporting his president. (This according to activist Lauren Steiner, who described TPP as “NAFTA on steroids.”)
On Thursday January 9, a demonstration was held outside his office on 350 South Bixel Street. About 25 people held signs as part of street theater. Also, a box containing a certain "outmoded congress member” shook (and pounding could be heard from within it) as it was carried over to a TPP van for shipment to Vietnam. All of this was captured on video and will be appearing publicly in the near future.
Steiner described Fast Track as “a Nixon-era-style procedure that was first introduced in 1974, and it's only been used 14 times. The worry is that if this thing gets fast-tracked, it's gonna get passed without the input of congress or the American people.
“. . . Three-quarters of the Democrats and 23 Republicans have pledged to vote no on Fast Track. Xavier Becerra is only one of two congressmen in the Los Angeles area who has not agreed to sign that.
“. . . TPP [has] been negotiated in secret for the last four years between 600 corporate representatives and a U.S. trade representative, but no member of the public, the press, or any member of congress, until recently, has seen the text of it. This is an agreement that's being negotiated of, by, and for the corporations: Walmart, Monsanto, Dow Chemicals, and Philip Morris.
“If thing gets passed, it's going to make all of our food safety laws, all of our environmental safety laws moot. They're going to be able to sue if we pass a ban on fracking here in L.A.” Also in jeopardy is internet freedom and prices for generic pharmaceuticals, and more U.S. jobs (which would be outsourced).
When a group of constituents began entering the building to speak with Becerra's staff, two police officers stopped them, saying they needed to get permission from the Chamber of Commerce, which owns the building. The police sought permission, but apparently none was granted. A field deputy for Becerra was reached via cell phone but was in a meeting and wouldn't speak with us.
We then walked over to the LA Times to ask why they haven't covered TPP (besides an op ed by John Kerry and a truncated letter to the editor), but they were hostile and quite smug. Eventually, however, Lauren was able to contact a staff member by phone, and flyers were given to some employees entering and leaving the building.
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