House Passes Trade Framework Bill
Roby, Pro-growth Republicans Support Bill To Promote Free And Fair Trade
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives recently voted to advance a bill setting strict parameters for how international trade negotiations are reviewed and ratified, sending a standalone Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill to the Senate.
The House passed the same measure, but it was linked to a separate Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) bill that failed to pass when U.S. Representative Martha Roby (R-AL) and a majority of Republicans voted against it. Thursday, the House voted on TPA as a standalone bill, which can now be considered by the Senate.
The bill, H.R. 2146, sets a legal framework for how the United States goes about reviewing and ratifying trade agreements. Under the plan, Congress retains its fundamental, final authority to approve any trade agreement, but also gains additional involvement in the process of formulating multi-lateral agreements.
Rep. Roby voted with a strong majority of Republicans to approve this stand-alone TPA, saying the framework will lead to better trade agreements that promote economic growth.
“There’s no question that trade supports jobs in Alabama, and it’s our responsibility to make sure trade agreements we enter into benefit American workers and serve our nation’s strategic global interests,” Rep. Roby said.
“That’s why this Trade Promotion bill is important. It puts Congress in a much better position to ratify good multi-lateral trade agreements and to stop bad ones.”
While most opposition came from anti-trade Democrats, a handful of Republicans also did not support the TPA. However, overall the plan has received broad support among pro-growth conservative lawmakers, organizations and opinion leaders, including Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), Governor Scott Walker (R-WI), Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), the American Conservative Union, the Cato Institute, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and The Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer.
The president has long been responsible for negotiating trade agreements with foreign countries. However, Congress has seen fit over the years to enact parameters for how potential agreements are reviewed and ratified. First passed in 1974, the last of these TPAs expired in 2007 under President George W. Bush.
Currently, the United States is seeking a major trade partnership with Pacific nations, the importance of which has been increased by the emergence of China and Russia. While reauthorizing a TPA would facilitate the ongoing negotiations, Congressional Republicans believe any new trade procedures must allow for greater accountability and transparency.
Under this new TPA, Congress sets the U.S. trade objectives, must be consulted throughout the process, can read negotiating texts and has the final say on trade agreements. Both the House and Senate are afforded multiple mechanisms by which they can shut down trade agreements they deem unsuitable. Also, any proposed trade agreement must be made available to the public prior to its consideration in Congress.
H.R. 2146 was passed by a vote of 218-208. The original bill text can be read on our website.
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