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GOP lawmakers increase pressure on Congress to fast-track controversial Pacific trade pact

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Some Republican lawmakers on Thursday threatened to withhold support for a Pacific trade pact unless Congress first passes legislation to ensure any deal will go to Congress for an up or down vote, without amendments.

In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman (above), the 23 Republican members of the House panel with jurisdiction over trade said Congress would not approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) the United States is negotiating with 11 other countries if it did not meet lawmakers’ goals.

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So-called trade promotion authority (TPA) allows lawmakers to set priorities for trade deals and means Congress in return votes yes or no on agreements.

A bipartisan bill was introduced to Congress in January, but has since stalled given a lack of enthusiasm among House Democrats in the lead-up to Congressional elections in November.

“Because of the critical importance of TPA in ensuring a successful outcome in the TPP negotiations, we will not support TPP if the agreement, even an agreement in principle, is completed before TPA is enacted,” the lawmakers, all members of the House Ways and Means Committee, said in the letter.

Republicans are generally seen as more supportive of trade than Democrats, given concerns from some in the party’s union support base about the impact of trade deals on jobs.

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U.S. trade officials have repeatedly said they are ready to work with Congress to pass TPA. But some Republicans have called for President Barack Obama to do more to push the need for fast-track authority to increase support among Democrats.

Obama has said he hopes to have an agreement on TPP ready by the time of an Asia-Pacific leaders’ meeting in November, just after the U.S. mid-term elections.

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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Texas governor busted sending racist call-to-arms a day before El Paso attack: ‘take matters into our own hands’

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On Thursday, Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) tweeted out a message of unity and promised to work to reduce violence in his state, in the wake of the shooting in El Paso that left 22 dead and dozens more injured:

Today we had hearings responding to the tragic shooting in El Paso.

We focused on community healing, combating domestic terrorism, reducing hateful ideologies, & keeping guns out of hands of deranged killers while respecting 2nd Amendment rights.

We’ll keep TX safe.#txlege pic.twitter.com/ymct4aiSgK

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Facebook bans far-right website from pro-Trump advertising after they try to skirt transparency rules

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On Thursday, NBC News reported that Facebook has banned the Epoch Times from placing political advertisements, after the right-wing website tried to conceal its multimillion-dollar dark money streams and get around the social network's political advertising transparency rules in its propaganda supporting President Donald Trump.

The Epoch Times had tried to skirt rules by running ads under puppet names like "Honest Paper" and "Pure American Journalism," confusing users about who was really behind the ads.

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Former Overstock CEO tells Fox News the Feds wanted him to sleep with Russian spy Maria Butina

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Longtime Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne resigned on Thursday after issuing a bizarre press release that caused the company's stock to tank.

Byrne then went on Fox News to claim that federal officials urged him to have a romantic relationship with Russian spy Maria Butina.

He claimed that the government told him they never asked citizens to engage in romantic relationships, but it was "such a national security risk" that the government asked Byrne, then in his fifties, to sleep with Butina, who was at the time in her twenties and half his age.

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