Mike Froman, the President's nominee for U.S. Trade Representative, sailed through his Senate confirmation hearing this week. Senators from both sides of the aisle said good things about him.
And Froman said good things about the outlook for the U.S. Trade Agenda.
"If confirmed, I will engage with you to renew Trade Promotion Authority," Froman told the Senators, as reported by Doug Palmer in a Reuters story. "TPA is a critical tool. I look forward to working with you to craft a bill that achieves our shared goals."
Trade Promotion Authority is the process that provides for Congress to vote up-or-down on trade agreements with no opportunity for amendments in return for consultations with the Administration along the way during negotiations.
TPA isn't required for completing trade negotiations, but having it in place helps make sure the U.S. gets the best deal, as our counter-parties won't have to hold something back anticipating further demands from Congress.
TPA expired in 2007. The Obama Administration didn't ask for its renewal during the first term, but now Froman is sending the right message.
Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has said he wants introduce a bill soon and get it passed by Congress this year.
TPA will give U.S. negotiators a useful tool for completing the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the new agreement with the European Union, both of which will provide significant benefits for U.S. workers, as the new agreements will open markets and we will be able to sell more U.S. products and services overseas.
Mike Froman likely will be confirmed fairly quickly as U.S. Trade Representative. We'll certainly look forward to working with him to renew Trade Promotion Authority.