In the grand scheme of all things current this might seem a little insignificant. But for those who are intent on knowing the “why” behind the activity from DC it is a Biden-esque deal.
For months I have been trying to identify “the play”, “the juice”, that Tom Donohue held over President Obama and the White House regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.
What play could Tom Donohue possibly hold that was so significant it would force Obama to defy his left-wing base and support a trade deal that only benefits Donohue and the Wall Street interests he represents.
The TPP trade deal was, and is, antithetical to U.S. main street business interests – but I couldn’t figure out why President Obama was willing to buck Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and the like-minded anti-Wall Street ideologues.
The reason for McConnell’s maneuver with the TPPA, which removed the higher threshold for trade ratification in the Senate and lowered it to a simple majority, was transparent.
But for the life of me I couldn’t identify the leverage of the CoC over the White House.
Now I’ve finally figured that out.
The “play” held by Donohue, which he recently just leveraged, goes back to a 2012 NLRB decision by Obama and a legal case the White House lost in June of 2014 (just prior to the mid-terms) in the Supreme Court.
In a rebuke to President Barack Obama, the Supreme Court struck down three of his recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board as unconstitutional.
The decision Thursday gives the Senate broad power to thwart future recess appointments, but did not go as far as some conservatives hoped to undercut the president’s ability to fill vacant executive branch posts and judicial slots.
The court ruled 9-0 that Obama’s appointments were unconstitutional because the Senate was not truly in recess when he made them during a three-day break in pro forma meetings of the legislative body.
[…] The case before the court was brought by a Pepsi bottler in Washington state, Noel Canning, and addressed the constitutionality of Obama’s decision to bypass the Senate by making politically sensitive recess appointments of three individuals to the NLRB and another to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
The appointments came during a period when the Senate claimed to be in session, even though it was on a 20-day break in most of its substantive business. The chamber was gaveled in briefly every three days, apparently in an attempt to stymie recess appointments, and a Senate resolution said no business was to be conducted.
But the ruling’s impact now and in the near future could be less sweeping than when the current legal fight was set in motion two years ago. That’s because last November , Senate Democrats exercised the so-called nuclear option — doing away with the Republican minority’s power to use the filibuster to block action on most nominees with fewer than 60 votes.
That move broke a logjam on judicial and executive nominations, allowing Obama to win confirmation of a slew of a nominees who had the support of nearly all Democrats but lacked Republican backing.
The Supreme Court’s decision to rein in the recess appointment power could become more significant if Democrats lose control of the Senate in this fall’s elections . That would restore Republicans’ ability to block confirmation of Obama nominees — something Obama could have countered with a more vigorous use of recess appointments, as it was widely interpreted before the new court decision.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and 44 other Senate Republicans filed a friend-of-the-court brief urging the justices to declare Obama’s appointments unconstitutional. Senate Democrats took no official position in the case, though Democratic Senate leaders have often approved actions to thwart recess appointments, such as arranging the pro forma sessions which Obama maintained were inadequate to demonstrate that the legislative body was open for business. (read more)
You will note, you never heard any follow-up about after the devastating White House defeat. Complete Crickets, despite two entire years worth of NLRB decisions being immediately vacated by the Supreme Court Ruling in the summer of ’14.
Literally hundreds of business cases within the vacated rulings had the potential to be re-heard, and re-litigated, depending on the voracity of the business interest impacted by the now vacated NLRB decisions. Two years worth of cases piled back on top of an existing pile of current litigation.
That’s some major juice!
Now it finally all makes perfect sense.
Read this 2014 Article and pay attention to the last paragraph.
“Today’s decision is a victory for the rule of law,” said Thomas J. Donahue, U.S. Chamber of Commerce president and chief executive. “The president’s unprecedented recess appointments left the NLRB in legal limbo, causing major uncertainty for both employers and employees alike.” (link)
Donohue gained and held the quid-pro-quo card.
Meaning: [pre-election 2014]: If Republicans win control of the Senate give me the ability to work the TPP deal, AND support it despite Warren/Sanders et al, and all of those two years of vacated cases can be retained ‘as is’.
Ergo the White House avoids the public embarrassment evident in the continual re-litigation (the unconstitutional rulings ignored), and the NLRB mired from the backlog therein.
♦ Tom Donohue (U.S. CoC) Spent $18 Million on Lobbying between April and June 2015
♦ Mitch McConnell used Senate rule changes to facilitate the deal 2015
♦ The U.S. Chamber of Commerce led TPP Negotiations just ended in Hawaii. Last week:
[…] The more the TPP is delayed, the more this debate overlaps with the U.S. presidential election season and puts the trade agreement in the blinding spotlight. By the time any vote can happen on the agreement we’ll have the text to read and analyze, so we’ll be able to make our lawmakers answer to specific issues in the TPP and force them to take accountability for everything that has been negotiated in secret in the meantime.
[…] There’s no way of knowing what’s in store for the TPP now, but the deal is only growing more controversial. People are realizing how it is wrong for our governments to be deciding so many regulatory issues behind closed doors, and trading away public interest policies in the name of lowering tariffs and enabling market access for various commodities. This is not how digital policy should be decided, nor any kind of domestic regulation that affects people’s lives. Our rights online and over our digital devices should not be sacrificed in the crossfire of this special interest horse trading. As long as rules for the online and digital environment are in the deal, and as long as there is still a real threat that it will pass, we need to keep raising awareness about this toxic deal and fight back. (link)