House TPA Rejection Protects the Past at the Expense of the Future

Today, the House of Representatives voted down Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) 126-302, but voted for Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), H.R. 1314, the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 by a vote of 219-211. The earlier vote — a power-play gambit by House Democrats — puts TPA in jeopardy, since the Senate-passed bill includes both the worker assistance program and TPA. The House will likely re-vote next week on TAA so the legislative package could advance. 

Frances B. Smith, CEI Adjunct Fellow on trade issues, made the following statement:

"This rejection of this needed trade package shows the power of protecting the past at the expense of the future.

"With 95 percent of the world’s market outside the U.S., this House vote today has the U.S. turning its back on the opportunities that market provides. TPA provides a process on trade agreements that puts Congress in charge. 

"The debate on the bill showed the opponents flying under the protectionist banner. Protectionism may be comfortable but destroys the future of the dynamic, competitive economy of the U.S. and isolates us from the opportunities that free trade provides.

"If TPA stays in limbo it means that on-going trade negotiations will become much more difficult.  How can countries negotiate in good faith with the U.S. when they know the specifics of their agreements can be pulled apart and dealt with separately rather than as a whole?

"Without TPA, free trade and the U.S. economy will take a crippling blow.

Under TPA, so-called “fast-track” legislation, the president has the authority to negotiate trade agreements if certain criteria established by Congress are met. Then Congress reviews the agreement and the implementing legislation and has to vote on the bill with no amendments allowed.