The leadership of the Senate Finance Committee and the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee reached a deal to move forward on “Fast Track” trade promotion authority. The deal made by Sens. Orin Hatch (R-UT) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) paves the way for a vote in the coming weeks.
This is one of the few instances where President Obama is aligned with the Republicans and will have to seek votes from his own party to get the final bill to his desk. This will be one of the toughest fights the president will face in his remaining time in office. It aligns the president with Republicans, business and agriculture communities against a broad coalition of Democratic constituencies of labor unions, environmentalists and Latino organizations. During a Senate Finance Committee hearing on the TPA, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack emphasized that without the TPA the United States will not get the best deal in the Trans Pacific Partnership trade negotiations because other countries will not put their best offers on the table.
President Obama said that he will sign the TPA bill if passed by Congress. He said that “we must make sure that we, and not countries like China, are writing the rules for the global economy. The bill put forward today would help us write those rules in a way that avoids the mistakes from our past, seizes opportunities for our future, and stays true to our values. It would level the playing field, give our workers a fair shot, and for the first time, include strong fully enforceable protections for workers’ rights, the environment, and a free and open internet.”
The National Pork Producers Council said, “TPA is imperative for getting U.S. trading partners to come to the negotiating table with their best and final offers,” and TPP is “the most significant commercial opportunity ever for U.S. pork producers, generating more than 10,000 pork industry jobs.” However, the National Farmers Union said the TPA bill is “a one-way ticket to bigger trade deficits, more lost jobs and more economic devastation to America’s family farmers and ranchers.” The Senate Finance Committee will vote on the TPA bill this Wednesday which gives the Congress the right to vote up or down on trade agreements without being able to amend the agreement. The House Ways and Means Committee is expected to hold a hearing on the House TPA bill this week.