Thursday, August 1, 2013

Can Congress Pass Trade Promotion Authority?

This week, President Obama called on Congress to restore Trade Promotion Authority so America can negotiate the best trade deals.

Trade Promotion Authority is the process that provides for Congress to vote up-or-down on completed trade agreements without the opportunity for after-the-fact amendments in return for consultations with the Administration during the negotiations.

TPA was last renewed in 2002, and it expired in 2007.

Getting the best trade deals should be an easy bipartisan issue.  But the political parties tend to support TPA if someone from their party is President and oppose it if not.

Opponents will tell you that TPA isn't required for completing trade negotiations.  That's true, but it is required for making sure the U.S. gets the best deal.  Obviously, if our counter-parties know Congress can make further demands with amendments after the agreement is completed, they will hold something back and not give us the most favorable terms.

TPA will give U.S. negotiators a very 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 enable us to sell more U.S. products and services overseas.

We already have seen partisan wrangling since the President asked for TPA.  We'll likely see lots of distractions and side issues with Congressional elections next year and the 2016 Presidential jockeying in full swing.

Bipartisanship is hard to find these days -- and poll after poll shows the people are tired of the bickering and sniping. 

Members of Congress can do themselves -- and American workers -- a great service by enacting Trade Promotion Authority.  With TPA, this and future Administrations can negotiate the best trade agreements possible so American workers, farmers, manufacturers and service providers can sell more products overseas and reap the benefits here at home.  

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