Trade Promotion Authority Legislation Introduced in U.S. Congress, Apr 2015

Apr 16, 2015. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) introduced bipartisan, bicameral Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation that establishes concrete rules for international trade negotiations to help the United States deliver strong, high-standard trade agreements that will boost American exports and create new economic opportunities and better jobs for American workers, manufacturers, farmers, ranchers and entrepreneurs. House Ways and Means Committee Ranking Democratic Member Sander Levin leads opposition to the legislation. 

The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (TPA-2015) outlines 21st century congressional negotiating objectives that any administration – Republican or Democratic – must follow when entering into and conducting trade talks with foreign countries while also increasing transparency by requiring that Congress have access to important information surrounding pending trade deals and that the public receive detailed updates and see the full details of trade agreements well before they are signed.  When the trade agreement meets the United States’ objectives and Congress is sufficiently consulted, the legislation allows for trade deals to be submitted to Congress for an up-or-down vote, an incentive for negotiating nations to put their best offer forward for any deal.  At the same time, the bill creates a new mechanism to withdraw TPA procedures and hold the administration accountable should it fail to meet the requirements of TPA.

TPA-2015 creates a stronger, more effective framework for Congress to partner with an administration in the pursuit of trade agreements that meets the demands of the 21st century global economy – a framework that ensures Congress has a strong voice in negotiations.

The bill establishes new trade-negotiating objectives that reflect today’s economic challenges, including measures to combat currency manipulation, and eliminate barriers to innovation and digital trade, among others.  Updated provisions address government involvement in cyber theft, protect trade secrets and the negotiating objectives continue to call for trade agreements to provide a high standard of intellectual property protection. The bill also updates provisions to promote human rights, and strengthen labor and environment protection, to reflect America’s most recent trade accords.

Furthermore, TPA-2015 modifies TPA procedures to enhance accountability of the Executive Branch and further strengthen congressional oversight and creates a new mechanism for the removal of expedited procedures for a trade agreement if, in the judgment of either the House or Senate, that agreement does not meet the requirements of TPA.

The TPA bill comes as the two of the most ambitious trade negotiations in the nation’s history – the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) – are underway to further eliminate trade barriers to American goods and services. According to data from the World Bank, together these two trade agreements would further open markets encompassing nearly 1.3 billion customers and approximately 60 percent of global gross domestic product.

TPA expired in 2007 and is needed for the United States to successfully conclude these negotiations.

A summary the bill can be found here, section-by-section summary of bill here and a copy of the bill text can be found here. Ways and Means Committee Ranking Democratic Member Sander Levin (D-MI) responded to the House-Senate introduction of TPA legislation by releasing a document detailing how the bill falls short. It can be found here.

Read more …

Hatch, Wyden and Ryan Introduce Trade Promotion Authority Legislation, Apr 16, 2015

Democrats’ civil war over free trade, Politico, Apr 17, 2015

The most important trade bill in a decade has pitted Harry Reid against President Barack Obama. Liberal Democrat Rosa DeLauro against moderate Democrat Ron Kind. Labor unions against pro-business Democrats. And Elizabeth Warren against virtually everyone who supports a landmark piece of legislation that would allow the president to close what could be the biggest free-trade deal in history.

The open warring among Democrats over fast-track trade legislation, and the party’s broader existential crisis on free trade, grew more pronounced Thursday as senior lawmakers announced a breakthrough on the trade bill. Many Democrats still feel the burn, 20 years later, of lost manufacturing jobs from the North American Free Trade Agreement — pushed through by former President Bill Clinton — and they fear another Democratic president is on the verge of turning his back on working-class Americans by negotiating a trade deal that would send jobs overseas.

Lawmakers reach deal to move Obama trade agenda, The Hill, Apr 17, 2015

To win Wyden over, Republicans are agreeing to also approve a new Trade Adjustment Assistance program, a government effort designed to help workers who lose their jobs because of trade. The program has been paired in the past with votes on fast track.

“For me, the heart of this is to have a modern trade policy that is going to work for hard-working middle-class Americans,” Wyden told reporters. “And it’s going to provide a path for them to have more high-skill, high-wage jobs.”

He said the bipartisan bill creates “what I expect to be unprecedented transparency in trade negotiations, and ensures future trade deals break new ground to promote human rights, improve labor conditions and safeguard the environment.”

Democrats are badly divided on trade, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and other liberals loudly protesting the president’s plans. A report by The Hill earlier this week suggested as few as 15 Democrats in the House were prepared to vote for fast track, and unions and other liberal groups have mounted an early offensive against the fast-track bill.

Levin: TPA Bill is a major step backwards on TPP Negotiations, Apr 16, 2015

Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI) today responded to the House-Senate introduction of TPA legislation by releasing a document detailing how the bill falls short. It can be found here.

“Unfortunately, the Hatch-Wyden-Ryan Trade Promotion Authority does not move us toward a stronger TPP agreement that will garner broad, bipartisan support in Congress,” Rep. Levin said in the document. “TPP is not where it needs to be right now, and Hatch-Wyden-Ryan does nothing to change that. On all of the major issues in the negotiations, the negotiating objectives are obsolete or woefully inadequate.   We can’t expect to get the best deal if we are not asking for the right things. The Hatch-Wyden-Ryan TPA gives up Congressional leverage at the exact wrong time.  Instead of pressing USTR to get a better agreement or signaling to our negotiating partners that Congress will only accept a strong agreement, the Hatch-Wyden-Ryan TPA puts Congress in the back seat and greases the skids for an up-or-down vote after the fact.  Real Congressional power is not at the end of the process, it is right now when the critical outstanding issues are being negotiated.”

Hatch Statement at Senate Finance Committee Hearing on Trade Priorities, Apr 16, 2015

“If we want to have a healthy economy with better jobs and bigger paychecks for more families and individuals, we must engage with other nations through trade.  Our nation has been without Trade Promotion Authority since 2007. So, while other nations have moved forward and created trade agreements to benefit their workers, the United States has fallen behind,” Hatch said. “This is a smart, bipartisan compromise that will help move America forward. The renewal of TPA will help American workers and job creators unlock new opportunities for growth and promote better, higher-paying jobs here at home. If we want to maintain our nation’s economic leadership and promote American values around the world, we must reach beyond our borders, and this bill is a strong first step.”

“Opening foreign markets, where most of the world’s consumers reside, is critical to creating new opportunities for middle-class American Jobs. This bill, together with strong new enforcement tools, Trade Adjustment Assistance and the Health Coverage Tax Credit, sets our country on the right track to craft trade policies that work for more people,” Wyden said. “I’m proud this bipartisan bill creates what I expect to be unprecedented transparency in trade negotiations, and ensures future trade deals break new ground to promote human rights, improve labor conditions, and safeguard the environment. At the core of this agreement is a new mandate for the Open Internet, free speech and digital commerce, by ensuring information can flow freely across national borders over the Internet.”

“A good trade agreement will help create a healthier economy and high-paying American jobs. It will also strengthen our hand abroad and ensure that the United States is writing the rules of the global economy, instead of nations like China. But a good trade agreement requires a good TPA bill, and that’s why I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation,” said Ryan. “The bill makes sure that Congress will set the priorities in our trade agreements, and it includes unprecedented accountability, transparency, and enforceability measures. TPA will help us get the best deals for the American economy and American workers. I want to thank Senators Hatch and Wyden for their tireless work on this important bill, and I look forward to working with all my House colleagues to pass it into law.”

U.S. Senate Finance Committee, Hearing on Congress and U.S. Tariff Policy, Apr 16, 2015, with statements by Senator Hatch, Senator Wyden, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman.  Watch the video (6:15:36), download and read the statements.

Posted: Apr 17 , 2015

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