House Remains Uncertain on Trade Promotion Vote

June 9, 2015

free_tradeBy the end of this week, the House may consider Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), legislation (H.R. 1314) that allows the president to enter into reciprocal trade agreements and requires that legislation for implementing the agreement is considered by Congress on a defined timeline without amendments.

The legislation, which passed the Senate by a vote of 62-38 last month, reauthorizes TPA for six years, and gives members of Congress access to important information surrounding pending trade deals and allows the public to receive detailed updates and see the full details of trade agreements well before they are signed. Once 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.

Republican leadership has yet to determine whether or not they will bring the measure to the House floor for deliberation, as they want to ensure they have the necessary 217 aye votes needed to pass the bill before committing to its consideration. The contentious vote remains very close, as nearly a dozen members, mostly Democrats, remain undecided. Those opposed have concerns over trade deals sending American jobs overseas, and putting our environmental and labor standards at risk.

Support for TPA is a rare point of agreement between President Barack Obama and Republicans, both of which believe TPA will allow U.S. businesses greater access to more global markets and opportunities. Enactment of TPA would also be a major victory for the president, who needs the expedited authority to finalize a huge Pacific trade accord, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and is the centerpiece of Obama’s economic agenda.

NSBA and its international trade arm—the Small Business Exporters Association—support TPA as it serves as the only way for the U.S. to effectively negotiate trade agreements in order to open foreign markets, spur economic growth and create jobs.

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