Goodlatte v. Massie on the TPA & TPP

When it comes to the issue of Trade Promotion Authority and the Transpacific Partnership, there are at least two lines of thinking among Republican legislators in Congress.  Many, like Representative Bob Goodlatte (VA-6), have come out in support of TPA & TPP, while others, like Representative Thomas Massie (KY-4), oppose them.  Although billed “Obamatrade” by its detractors as it is favored by President Obama, it is rather curious that it has more support among Republicans than Democrats.  On June 12th, the TPA narrowly passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 219-210.  Broken down by party, Republicans generally favored it (191-54) while Democrats generally opposed it (28-156).

Rather than outline their positions myself, let me present the two representatives in their own words.

First, on April 30, 2015, Representative Goodlatte sent out the following letter:

Dear Colleague:
No one believes more strongly than do I that our immigration laws should be written by Congress and not negotiated in trade agreements. In 2003, I and other Members sent a letter to Ambassador Robert Zoellick, head of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), stating that:
The Constitution grants the legislative branch of the federal government plenary power over immigration law. As the Supreme Court ruled in Galvan v. Press, 347 U.S. 522, 531 (1954), “that the formulation of [immigration] policies is entrusted exclusively to Congress has become about as firmly imbedded in the legislative and judicial tissues of our body politic as any aspect of our government.” The United States Trade Representative’s practice of proposing new immigration law in the context of bilateral or multilateral trade negotiations cannot be reconciled with Congress’s constitutional prerogative. Even worse, when combined with the grant of “fast track” or “trade promotion authority” eliminating the legislature’s ability to amend such  proposals, USTR’ s practice has effectively stolen this plenary power away from Congress. We cannot allow this to continue and must thus insist that you never again agree to include immigration provisions in trade agreements. . . .
Based on the current draft text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and assurances from USTR, I am confident that we can vote for the TPP and trade promotion authority without violating the enduring principles set forth in the 2003 letter. To its great credit, USTR has stood up to immense pressure and has refused to agree to “temporary entry” provisions in the TPP that would allow foreign workers to come to America outside of the terms of current congressionally-passed immigration law. Whatever other countries participating in the TPP negotiations agree to regarding temporary entry, the U.S. will not be a signatory. In addition, no one has been more vocal than me in their criticism of the Obama Administration’s attempt to unconstitutionally rewrite our immigration laws through the grant of administrative legalization to millions of unlawful aliens. There is nothing in the current draft of the TPP that will in any way advance or facilitate this or any other unconstitutional action by the Administration.
In the TPP negotiations, USTR has acted in good faith and has respected Congress’ constitutionally-granted power to write our nation’s immigration laws. In turn, we should support the TPP and trade promotion authority as a boon to the American economy.

Bob Goodlatte
Chairman House Judiciary Committee
In addition, on June 11th, Representative Goodlatte shared a link on his Facebook page outlining the “Top Nine Myths About Trade Promotion Authority And The Trans-Pacific Partnership“.
However, another group of Republicans disagree.  On June 12th, Representative Massie offered the following thoughts on Facebook:

I support free trade, but I cannot vote for the ‪#‎TPA‬ bill that will expedite approval of the ‪#‎TPP‬ trade agreement.

(1) I’ve read the confidential TPP. What struck me most was the enormity of it. Two bound volumes that reference other bound volumes of trade agreements. My staff aren’t allowed to read the document, I’m not allowed to take notes from the room, and I can’t access an Internet browser in the room. How could I possibly understand the unintended consequences of this agreement over the next few decades?

(2) The implications of ceding our sovereignty to the World Trade Organization (‪#‎WTO‬) via trade agreements became painfully obvious to me this week. Congress literally rewrote our food labeling laws to please the WTO. The WTO said we can’t require the country of origin to be on the labels for beef and pork. I voted against removing the labels but the WTO-directed legislation passed anyway.

(3) Phone calls from my constituents are running 30 to 1, opposing versus supporting, the TPA. Some are concerned that this agreement gives this President too much additional authority. Some are concerned about the lack of transparency. These are both valid concerns.

And here is what he said on the House floor:

So, given that Goodlatte and Massie seem to be diametrically opposed on this issue, one does have to ask, what is the Republican position on this matter?  Generally, Republicans favor free trade, but is the TPA & TPP a bad deal for Americans?

Like the recent feud over the Patriot Act and the USA Freedom Act, is this another issue which will help tear the establishment and liberty wings of the Republican Party apart?  And could these rather substantive disagreements predicate the GOP’s future destruction?  After all, last week RNC Chairman Reince Priebus stated that “we (the Republican Party) don’t exist as a national party if we don’t win in 2016.”  I guess we will see.

Goodlatte, Liberty & Security

Our Representative, Bob Goodlatte

Last night, as a result of the debate that was going on in the U.S. Senate over renewing provisions of the Patriot Act, Representative Bob Goodlatte (VA-6) posted the following message on Facebook:

“Pleased that the Senate acted wisely to proceed with debate on the USA Freedom Act. This decision is long overdue. However, I’m disappointed that the Senate has stalled and will not vote on it tonight. Because of Senate’s irresponsible inaction, three national security provisions will expire at midnight. I urge the Senate to act as expeditiously as possible to approve the USA Freedom Act, without amendment and without delay, so that we protect Americans’ civil liberties and our national security.”

Although 52 people indicate that they “like” what Representative Goodlatte wrote (at this time of the writing of this piece), a greater number of individuals offer comments, and a vast majority of these are in opposition to the representative’s stance.  Let me offer a few examples:

Some are statements of support for Senator Rand Paul’s efforts to stop or delay renewal.

I stand with Rand. Sic semper tyrannis.


Others compare Representative Goodlatte to Representatives Justin Amash and/or Thomas Massie, generally regarded as the most pro-liberty members of the House of Representatives.

You, sir, are a hypocrite — you read the Constitution once a session out loud, and ignore it the rest of the time. The USA Freedom Act is almost as dangerous to liberty as the Patriot Act was. Have even read the whole thing? The 6th District deserves a Massie or an Amash — perhaps you should learn from them.

Maybe you should adopt Congressman Thomas Massie‘s position on it. His is much more in line with the Constitution and the 4th Amendment.

A handful call for Goodlatte’s removal from office or express hopes that he is not re-elected.

You sir should resign. You DO NOT represent the people.

I cannot wait for a tea party candidate to run against you. You John McCain and Lindsey Graham are all cut from the same cloth.

However, the top three “liked” responses to Representative Goodlatte’s post are as follows:

3. “I cannot possibly disagree with you more. The Patriot Act has destroyed Americans’ civil liberties. We should hail the expiration of the three unconstitutional provisions of the Patriot Act as a renewal of the Fourth Amendment.

2. “You urge them to expeditiously vote to violate our 4th amendment rights? What about that oath you took??

1. “A good Virginian would follow the foot steps of those before him and stand hand and hand with that great Senator. Freedom does not spy on ‘we the people’ that is tyranny.

I suppose the question is, do these 71 comments accurately express the will of the people in the 6th congressional district of Virginia?  Is Representative Goodlatte out of step with his constituents on this matter?  And, if so, will this issue be the tipping point and give rise for an opponent to challenge Bob Goodlatte in 2016?

ISFLC 2015

On February 13th, 14th, and 15th, Students for Liberty held their annual International Students for Liberty Conference in Washington, D.C.  Some of the featured speakers this year included: Former Representative Ron Paul, Andrew Napolitano, former Mexican President Vicente Fox, and, via satellite, Edward Snowden.

This year’s ISFLC marked my third, having previously attended in 2013 and 2014.  Unfortunately, as was the case last year, no students from James Madison University made the journey.  Nevertheless, Nicholas Farrar, the former president of Madison Liberty did make the conference.

I intended to attend only on Saturday, but on Friday morning I received a call.  Apparently a group of students traveling to the conference from Nashville, TN, broke down in Mt. Jackson, VA, about thirty miles north of my home.  As luck would have it, they ran into a Methodist minister (who also happened to be my last roommate from college) who contacted me.  I was unable to find anyone who could transport the students the rest of the way to the conference and therefore prepared to do so myself.  However, right before leaving Harrisonburg, I received word that a bus coming from Texas would pick up the stranded students and thus that particular crisis was averted.

Early Saturday morning, I left for ISFLC along with a new friend and local Democratic activist.  The drive north was uneventful, though I was disappointed to discover that the conference was not in the same location as it had been the previous two years.  After parking, we made our way from the garage through a dimly lit maze of hotel corridors until we found the check-in counter.  While waiting for the annual taping of the Stossel Show, we explored the various informational tables.  A handful of groups, like YAL, the Koch Institute, and the Libertarian Party had booths in very visible locations while the majority were clustered on a lower floor.  During this time, we ran into the 2014 West Virginia Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate John Buckley.

Marc Allen Feldman
Marc Allen Feldman

One of the first fellows who reached out to me was Marc Allen Feldman, an individual who is seeking the 2016 Libertarian nomination for president.  Although neither the Republican or Democratic Parties has ever had a booth at ISFLC, The Republican Liberty Caucus did, staffed by former RLC national chairman Dave Nalle.

As we sought out lunch, we ran into Representative Thomas Massie (KY-4).  He was speaking to a gathering of students on a variety of topics.  IMG_2805

Over a hundred people stood in line for well over a half an hour as we awaited entrance to attend the Stossel Show.

IMG_2815Although not boasting a list of controversial speakers as they had in previous years, the program did include Representative Justin Amash (MI-3) and a variety of folks who spoke about the abridgement of students’ rights on college campuses, not only in this country, but internationally as well.

Afterward, Representatives Amash, and Massie as well as Young Americans for Liberty leader Jeff Frazee, spoke to a rather sizable gathering of students. IMG_2824

As I mentioned to him before the conference, I would have liked to speak to Representative Amash in person too, but the opportunity never presented itself.  Nevertheless, I was able to snap a photo of him as he hurried from one meeting to the next.  IMG_2827

Given the threat of snow, we decided to leave the conference around 5 PM.  I found that unlike previous conferences, parking was exceedingly expensive, $33 for about seven hours.

The drive back started out relatively uneventfully, though a light snow began to fall as we took I-66 through Manassas.  By the time we reached Front Royal, the snow reduced visibility to several feet and so I pulled off the road, hoping that the weather would subside, worried that I’d have to spend the night in my car.  After a short pause, the snow became lighter and so we continued on.  Shortly after turning on to I-81, we were forced off the highway and told the interstate was closed due to several tractor trailer wrecks.  Switching to US-11, the journey slowly advanced south for several miles until we could return to the interstate.  Although the roads were not in the best condition, we were able to return to Harrisonburg without incident.  A drive that normally takes about two hours instead took four.

All in all, it was another enjoyable conference, though it is my sincere hope that many JMU students will be able to experience it for themselves in 2016.

ISFLC 2014 & Republican Women

Saturday was a busy day politically.  In the morning, U.S. Senate candidate Shak Hill and House of Representatives candidate Paul Bevington spoke to the Republican Women of Shenandoah County.  As mentioned in a previous post, this gathering took place at the Denny’s in Mount Jackson.  I traveled there alongside fellow liberty activist Lisa McCumsey.

Shak Hill reading from the Affordable Care Act bill.  (Note the stack of paper).
Shak Hill reading from the Affordable Care Act bill. (Note the stack of paper)
Paul Bevington in Mt. Jackson
Paul Bevington in Mt. Jackson











Afterward, I spent the remainder of the day at the International Students for Liberty Conference in Washington, D.C.  Although I had hoped to attend for all three days of the event, as was done last year, both weather and finances kept me from doing so.  I was disappointed to miss the taping of the Stossel Show which took place on Friday night.

Shortly after arriving, I ran across Jack Hunter giving an interview in the media lounge.


Next, came a panel discussion with Representatives Justin Amash and Thomas Massie.  Unfortunately, due to weather, Massie was unable to attend and thus joining Amash on stage was Matt Kibbe of FreedomWorks and Jeff Frazee of Young Americans for Liberty.


Although James Madison University has sent a contingent of students in previous years, to the best of my knowledge there were no JMU students present this year, nor anyone else from the Harrisonburg area.  Nevertheless, it was great to run into two former members of Madison Liberty, Reid Walker (not pictured) and Luke Wachob, now working for the Center for Competitive Politics.


It was difficult to gauge attendance at ISFLC this year.  Although the conference occupied a greater portion of the hotel and more organizations were participating, actual student numbers were unavailable by the time I left on Saturday evening.  Given the Facebook chatter beforehand, it was likely that a good number of students had to unexpectedly cancel at the last minute (again due to snow).  All in all, it seemed like another great event, one that I would highly recommend for college students to attend if given the opportunity.

On a more personal note, as I made my way back to the Metro station, I ended up taking a wrong turn and became lost.  I was grateful that a young woman pointed me in the right direction.  Once she realized that I still wasn’t quite sure where I was going, she kept popping up every block or two, making sure I found my destination successfully.  I regret to say that I did not get her name, but her kindness was very much appreciated.

Yes, I believe it is fair to say that Saturday was quite an interesting day!