Aaron Fobes, Julia Lawless (202) 224-4515
Hatch Says Strong, Bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority Renewal Bill a Top Priority
On Senate Floor, Finance Committee Republicans Outline How Bipartisan Trade Tool has Helped America Secure High Standard Trade Agreements for More than 40 Years
WASHINGTON – Today, Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) joined U.S. Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), a senior member of the Committee, on the Senate floor to outline the need for a strong, bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) renewal bill that will empower America to negotiate and enact high standard trade agreements to help grow the economy and create jobs.
“Our goal should not be to pass just any TPA bill. Our goal should be to pass the strongest bill possible. That is the only way to ensure we get the best possible deal out of our trade negotiations, which is, in the end, the purpose of TPA,” said Hatch. “We do not need new, untested changes to established TPA procedures that can hamper the process and make it harder both for our negotiators to reach a good deal and for Congress to be able to vote an agreement up or down.”
Below is the text of Hatch’s full speech delivered on the Senate floor this morning:
Mr. President, I am pleased to join my colleagues here on the floor to talk about the importance of Trade Promotion Authority to the health of our nation’s economy.
At the beginning of this Congress, I, along with many of my colleagues, stated publicly that trade was one of a few areas where the new Republican Congress would be able to find common ground with President Obama. I still believe that is the case.
The Obama Administration is currently negotiating some of the most ambitious trade agreements in our nation’s history. The first is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, an Asia-Pacific trade agreement being negotiated between the United States and eleven other countries. On the other side of the world, the U.S. is negotiating a bilateral trade agreement with the twenty-eight countries of the European Union.
Together, these two trade agreements have the potential to greatly expand access for U.S. trade with other countries, allowing our job creators to sell more American-made goods and services. This helps us create and support more high-paying, export-related jobs here at home.
Of these two agreements, the TPP negotiations are further advanced. According to administration officials, the agreement could be concluded over the next few months.
That’s the good news, Mr. President. Now, let’s talk about the bad news.
Without renewal of effective TPA procedures, the administration will simply not be able to conclude a strong TPP agreement.
Why is TPA so important?
TPA is a compact between the Senate, the House, and the administration. Under this compact, the administration agrees to pursue specified objectives and consult with Congress as it negotiates trade agreements. And, both the House and Senate agree to allow for expedited consideration of trade agreements without amendments.
For a number of reasons, this compact is essential for the conclusion and passage of strong trade agreements.
Put simply, without TPA, our trading partners will not put their best offers on the table because they will have no guarantees that the agreement they sign will be the same one Congress will vote on in the end.
As former Deputy USTR Miriam Sapiro said in a recent speech, “Neither our Asian nor our European partners want to get into the real give-and-take that's necessary to reach a final agreement until they are sure that the president has the authority that he needs to conclude the deal. Absent that, they are content to wait.”
In other words, if we want good trade agreements, we must have strong TPA procedures in place. And, we need to be clear on one other point: The specifics of those procedures matter – they matter a great deal.
Our goal should not be to pass just any TPA bill. Our goal should be to pass the strongest bill possible. That is the only way to ensure we get the best possible deal out of our trade negotiations, which is, in the end, the purpose of TPA.
We have used the same basic TPA structure for every major trade agreement over the last four decades. And, quite frankly, the results speak for themselves.
As my colleagues have so eloquently stated today, we do not need new, untested changes to established TPA procedures that can hamper the process and make it harder both for our negotiators to reach a good deal and for Congress to be able to vote an agreement up or down.
When Republicans took control of the Senate this year and I became the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, I made renewing TPA my top trade priority for this Congress and I set out to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to craft the best possible bill.
We already had a good framework in place – the bill I introduced last year with the former Chairmen Baucus and Camp, which had broad support in Congress, the administration, and in the business community. My goal has been to see if we can improve upon that product in order to broaden support for TPA.
I am certainly willing to do that. But I have made it clear throughout this process that I cannot agree to any bill that would dilute the effectiveness of TPA as a tool to negotiate and enact strong trade agreements.
Recently, I had the opportunity to talk personally with President Obama about TPA. I think he understands the importance of getting a strong TPA bill through Congress. That is why I’m willing to work with him to make the advancement of our nation’s trade agenda a higher priority. I am hoping that the President will do his part to help persuade members of his party to support an effective TPA bill.
Make no mistake, our competitors are not sitting on their laurels when it comes to trade. There are literally hundreds of trade agreements under negotiation throughout the world, and the U.S. is party to only a few.
We need to do better. We need to do everything we can to ensure that the U.S. is not only a participant in international trade, but a leader. The only way we can do that is by passing a strong TPA bill.
I stand ready and willing to work with the White House and my colleagues here in the Senate to get an effective TPA bill introduced, out of committee, and onto the Senate floor as soon as possible. We cannot afford to miss this opportunity.
I yield the floor.
Next Article Previous Article