While the House today voted 219-208 to approve Trade Promotion Authority legislation, it failed to pass Trade Adjustment Assistance, which is required to send the trade package to the president. House lawmakers are expected to vote again on TAA, which provides assistance to workers displaced because of increased trade. The Senate approved TPA and TAA as a package May 23. TPA is vital to finalizing free trade agreements that can boost U.S. pork exports. It defines U.S. negotiating objectives and priorities for trade deals and establishes consultation and notification requirements for the president to follow throughout the negotiation process.
Once trade negotiators finalize a deal, Congress gets to review it and vote yes or no – without amendments – on it. Congress has granted TPA to every president since 1974, with the most recent law being approved in August 2002 and expiring June 30, 2007. The immediate need for TPA is for concluding the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations among the United States and 11 Pacific Rim countries. According to Iowa State University economist Dermot Hayes, the TPP deal would be the most significant commercial opportunity ever for U.S. pork producers, generating more than 10,000 U.S. jobs tied to pork exports. Failure to pass TPA, which effectively would be a vote against TPP, would send a signal to the world that the United States is turning its back on the Asia-Pacific region – the fastest growing area in the world – and allow other countries to write the rules for international trade, according to the National Pork Producers Council, which is leading the agricultural industry’s efforts to get TPA approved.