HEALTH GAP (Global Access Project)
Media Release • 12 Jun 2015
Contact: Paul Davis: +1 202 817 0129
Washington DC] The global health advocacy organization Health GAP applauded a vote today in the U.S. House of Representatives that dealt a major setback to the pharmaceutical industry’s policy agenda of extending monopolies over life-saving medications. The 126-302 vote rejected the Senate-passed combined Trade Assistance Authority (TAA) and fast track Trade Promotion Authority package, which would have paved the way for the adoption of dangerous trade deals, most imminently the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The vote signals a major, but potentially temporary victory for people in need of access to medicines throughout the Pacific region.
Even though House Republicans subsequently “passed” a largely symbolic stand alone Trade Promotion Authority bill, without the companion worker retraining provisions adopted by the Senate, the bill cannot be sent to the President’s desk for signature. Unless enough Republican and Democratic votes are changed over the weekend to pass the full package of bills passed in the Senate, Fast Track will be stuck in limbo.
After the failure of the TAA and symbolic passage of Fast Track, Speaker John Boehner passed a last-minute “motion to reconsider” vote scheduled for next week, effectively giving leaders from both parties the weekend to persuade Members of Congress to change their votes on TAA--a bill that supports workers displaced by the impacts of “free trade” agreements. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi summed up the strong views of many across the United States and around the world when she said, “people would rather have a job than assistance."
“Trade agreements should be responsible, but leaked text from the Trans Pacific Partnership has shown us that the deal is harmful,” said Heath GAP’s Amirah Sequeira. “The Fast Track bill contains negotiating objectives that will hurt patients. We urge Members of the House to resist arm twisting over the weekend and vote against the TAA when they return next week. Members who vote in favor of the passage of fast track will be hurting millions of people with HIV around the world. These deadly votes will be remembered.”
Health GAP and other public health organizations call on House members to reject the entire Fast Track package.