Trade Bills Signed into Law

July 1, 2015

free_tradeOn June 29, President Barack Obama signed into law Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and the Trade Preferences Extension Act, which includes Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA).  TPA is a key tool for U.S. trade negotiators to successfully finalize trade agreements currently being discussed—including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP)—an outcome considered near impossible without TPA.

TPA is a legislative procedure through which Congress defines U.S. negotiating objectives and priorities for trade agreements and establishes consultation and notification requirements for the president to follow throughout the negotiation process. At the end of the negotiation and consultation process, Congress gives the agreement an up or down vote, without amendment. Trade negotiating authority has been granted to all but one of our 13 presidents since President Franklin Roosevelt and had been expired since 2007.

In addition to TPA becoming law, the president signed and extended TAA, a program to provide vital job training, income support and other employment-related benefits to American workers displaced by globalization. The program was set to expire on Sept. 30, 2015 and now that President Obama signed it into law, key provisions were included to help support tens of thousands of more workers each year.

Congress spent nearly six weeks volleying TPA and TAA back-and-forth from the Senate to the House and back to the Senate, as the bill faced considerable opposition, based on concern that it could lead to trade agreements that aren’t fully transparent and risk jobs of American workers. Ultimately, on June 24, the Senate passed a final vote for the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 by a vote of 60-38, ensuring its next stop would be on the president’s desk for his signature. Then, on June 25, the House voted 286-138 to renew TAA, a program that provides retraining for workers who have lost their jobs because of trade, along with a reauthorization of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and two trade preference programs – Haiti HOPE II and Generalized System of Preferences, to assist Haiti and more than 120 developing countries sell their goods to the U.S.

TPA is crucial to advancing a U.S. trade agenda that will help U.S. businesses –including small businesses—promote their products and services around the globe, while also providing American workers better jobs with higher pay. NSBA and its international trade arm—the Small Business Exporters Association (SBEA) applaud the president and his administration for working together with members of both the House and Senate to get this passed, as it will help provide new economic opportunities for American businesses, farmers, workers and consumers. New and expanded market access through trade agreements has been an important catalyst for increased small business exports.