The entire text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership — the big trade deal made by 12 nations, including the U.S.— is now online after years of hush-hush negotiations and intense politicking. The Obama administration posted all 30 chapters on Medium this Thursday. And for those daunted by the far-reaching deal’s length, there is also a page of frequently asked questions that answers many of the complaints that the agreement’s liberal critics have had.
And the trade deal has many, many critics already. Although the deal is only available publicly now, many elected officials and other interested parties have had the chance to look over the deal in classified briefing rooms, where cell phones and note-taking were strictly prohibited. Most congressional Democrats don’t like the deal, given that labor unions are worried about what it might mean for American jobs. Human-rights and green groups are worried that the deal won’t do enough to force other Pacific countries to protect workers or the environment. Some tea-party Republicans also don’t like the deal. Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Donald Trump all oppose the TPP. Now that the deal is finally public, these opponents will now be able to cite specific reasons why they aren’t fond of the deal, and the White House will be able to counter with its own specific rebuttals and arguments for why you should really, really love this deal Obama’s been working on forever that could end up being an important part of his legacy.
Which means the battle over TPP is about to get far more fractious.
President Obama’s biggest allies in this fight are pro-free-trade Republicans, who helped pass legislation that limits Congress to giving the deal an up-or-down vote — and no chance to amend it or alter the deal in a way that would frustrate the U.S.’s international partners. The Obama administration is probably eager to tell hesitant Democrats about the side deals the U.S. made with Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei — deals that are supposed to offer more human-rights and labor protections for those nations’ workers.
It seems safe to say that the next few months are going to be a mess of trade-deal-infused fighting, made even more difficult by the fact that legislators are going to be worried about casting such a significant vote so close to a big election.
But before any of that can happen, the deal will have to be read. Here it is.