Hatch Calls on Senate, House Leadership to Hold Conference to Resolve Differences in Korea Trade Agreement
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, today urged House and Senate leaders to resolve the differences between a House Ways & Means passed Korean trade agreement and Senate passed agreement through a conference committee. Hatch has strongly argued that the inclusion of an unrelated spending measure that the White House included in the Senate version breaks long-standing trade rules.
In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Hatch noted different versions of the Korea FTA draft implementing bill were reported out of the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committee last week and said it was the “exclusive prerogative of Congress” to reconcile the two bills.
“While we may have individual differences as to matters of policy, I believe we can all agree that integrity of process is an important safeguard which, among other things, serves to ensure that Congressional prerogatives are preserved,” Hatch said. “Process plays a particularly important role with regard to Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) procedures, as under these procedures legislation to implement trade agreements cannot be amended once it is submitted to Congress by the President.”
The text of the letter to Leadership is below:
The Honorable Harry Reid The Honorable Mitch McConnell
Senate Majority Leader Senate Minority Leader
United States Senate United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510 Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable John Boehner The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
Speaker of the House Minority Leader
U.S. House of Representatives U.S. House of Representatives Washington, DC 20515 Washington, DC 20515
Dear Mr. Reid, Mr. McConnell, Mr. Boehner, and Ms. Pelosi:
While we may have individual differences as to matters of policy, I believe we can all agree that integrity of process is an important safeguard which, among other things, serves to ensure that Congressional prerogatives are preserved. Process plays a particularly important role with regard to Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) procedures, as under these procedures legislation to implement trade agreements cannot be amended once it is submitted to Congress by the President.
Following the Senate Finance Committee “mock markup” hearing on the draft Korea FTA implementing bill - in which every single Republican member expressed their clear opposition to the inclusion of TAA by Senate Democrats and the Obama administration - the bill was voted out of committee with no Republican support. On the same day, the House Ways and Means Committee voted their version of the draft Korea FTA implementing bill out of committee - a version which did not include TAA.
Reconciling the two bills is the exclusive prerogative of Congress, a prerogative which cannot rightfully be devolved to the Executive branch. Therefore, as Ranking Member on the Senate Finance Committee, it is my expectation that a “mock conference” will be scheduled shortly, thereby providing Congress with the opportunity to present to the President a template for drafting a final implementing bill which has the support of both Houses.
To that end, I formally request that a “mock conference” be scheduled in the near future so that we may continue to uphold our Constitutional role in regulating trade with other nations.
Orrin G. Hatch
Senate Committee on Finance