Bipartisan, Bicameral Trade Promotion Authority Bill Introduced

January 16, 2014

free_tradeOn Jan. 9, bipartisan leaders from both the House and Senate jointly introduced Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation that will put in place the necessary mechanisms and special procedures for the negotiation, consideration, and implementation of future trade agreements.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), ranking member Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) came together and introduced the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014 which will restore the president’s authority to negotiate trade deals by including strict requirements for Congressional consultations and access to information. TPA was last renewed in 2002 and expired in 2007.

The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014 addresses many of the trade challenges facing the U.S. in the global marketplace, including: competition from state-owned enterprises; localization barriers to trade; and restrictions on cross-border data flows.

TPA-2014 updates labor and environment provisions to reflect recent trade agreements, as well as market access priorities for goods and services. It strengthens oversight by Congress and the public by adding consultation and reporting requirements. TPA-2014 also provides for tougher, enforceable rules against barriers to U.S. agriculture. And for the first time, TPA-2014 sets out a clear directive on currency manipulation, something that was being pushed by members on both sides of the aisle.

The Baucus-Hatch-Camp measure would allow for TPA for four years. Similar to the 2002 measure, the bill would set an expedited legislative path for confirmation of trade agreements and would allow members of Congress only and up-or-down vote, and bar amendments, on a final trade deal.

In the House, Ways and Means ranking member Sander Levin (D-Mich.) has been working on an alternative version of a trade negotiating authority bill, as he has said trade promotion authority needs to permit members a bigger role in picking potential trading partners and give them greater authority throughout trade negotiations, such as with the deal the administration is working on now, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The White House issued a statement welcoming introduction of the trade bill, calling it “an important step towards Congress updating its important role in trade negotiations.” The White House also said it stands ready to work with Congress on such measures as Trade Adjustment Assistance, which is popular with Democrats and provides training and funding for workers who have lost jobs because of trade pacts.

Baucus-Hatch-Camp have released a series of briefing papers on various aspects of the TPA-2014 bill, and you find the sector-specific pieces here.

NSBA and its international trade arm—the Small Business Exporters Association (SBEA)—issued  a press release that can be found here and urged Congress and the administration to act swiftly to move the legislation forward with bipartisan support.