Why the Great Fear of TPA?
Although House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi led the charge to vote against the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), a provision of the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) that Democrats normally support, the failure of TAA on the floor only delayed the final Congressional vote of TPA until next week; thus, not stopping it completely. Having the TPA does two things: It establishes the negotiating parameters for the president, and it sets the stage for a simple up or down vote by House and Senate after 60 days of public debate on the trade agreement language. It’s a standard methodology for Congress to define the terms and limitations of what can be included in any trade agreement and recognizes the law in the USA is made in the USA.
For example, the TPA says: “No provision of any trade agreement entered into under section 3(b), nor the application of any such provision to any person or circumstance, that is inconsistent with any law of the United States, any State of the United States, or any locality of the United States shall have effect. … No provision of any trade agreement entered into under section 3(b) shall prevent the United States, any State of the United States, or any locality of the United States from amending or modifying any law of the United States, that State, or that locality.”
I’d much rather both the House and Senate had to pass any Trade agreement than the Senate only. Plus it is required that both houses vote on a Trade bill where revenues to the government are involved.
It does because it keeps Congress in control so a president can’t run off and negotiate something unacceptable to the majority. It also makes sense for the president for he knows the agreement won’t get hit with amendments that would require renegotiation with the trade countries.
TPA is the guide and vehicle for a possible agreement. If a trade agreement actually materializes, then the 60 days will begin. If it contains questionable things, there will be plenty of time to kill it. Currently, there isn’t an agreement that has been completed or approved by the negotiators for nations involved. There aren’t any “specific provisions” to even discuss at this point. Taking portions of what may be in the TPP agreement (Congress has access to preliminary documents) and acting as if they are part of the TPA is simply wrong.
Most Fast Tracked Agreements Have Been Approved By Congress
Presidents have also had to come up agreements that could be approved. The “up or down only” approach puts pressure on the president to obtain a “good deal.” When dealing with possible sanctions from international organizations, the administration is our first line of defense, Congress is second, and the States are third.
You can’t negotiate with other nations while simultaneously letting Congress pick at every detail as nothing would ever be resolved. The TPA simply lets this administration (and the next) pound out a trade agreement (under the rules the TPA establishes) that will then get the 60-day review and up or down votes.