Paul Ryan (WI-R), Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee
This is an excerpt reprinted with permission from The Hagstrom Report, a news service providing original national and international agricultural news to its subscribers.
The House passed today — for a second time — a bill to provide President Barack Obama with trade promotion authority.
The vote on the bill that included the Motion to Concur in the Senate Amendment with an Amendment to H.R. 2146, the Trade Priorities and Accountability Act, was 218 to 208.
Twenty eight Democrats voted “yes” — the same number as last week. Fifty Republicans voted “no.” The Senate is expected to take up the bill next week.
Last week, the House voted for the TPA section of a bill that included it, but voted against the trade adjustment authority section the bill.
Trade adjustment authority (TAA) is expected to be added to the African Growth and Opportunity Act, a popular piece of legislation, and House leaders are counting on members voting for it. But House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said today she still not see a path forward for TAA, Washington Trade Daily reported.
President Barack Obama has said he will only sign TPA if he can sign TAA.
In a floor statement before the vote, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said he was “disappointed that we have to be here today.”
“Last week a bipartisan majority stepped up to pass trade promotion authority,” Ryan said. “That vote showed that Republicans and Democrats can still come together to do what is right for the country. It was a vote that I’m very proud of.”
“Unfortunately, many of our friends on the other side of the aisle would not stand with their president, and voted to sacrifice a program they support — a program that they asked for — in order to block our path,” he said.
“It was disappointing, but we’re not going to be discouraged. Enacting trade promotion authority is critical for our economy and for our national security, and so we’re going to get it done here today.
“Why do we need TPA? Because we need more trade. Ninety-five percent of the world’s consumers don’t live in America. They live in other countries. And if we want to make more things here and sell them over there, we need to tear down trade barriers that make American goods and services more expensive
“Our friends in Asia and Europe are getting ready to place their bets,” Ryan said.
“They want to sign up for American-style free enterprise. But they need to know that the United States is going to stand strong as a reliable trading partner before they do. That’s what TPA is all about." ut House Ways and Means Committee ranking member Sander Levin, D-Mich., said in his floor statement, “It is said that we should write the rules, not China.”
“But make no mistake — the ‘we’ is not Congress, leaving us with only a yes or no vote at the very end.,” Levin said.
“To vote for TPA now is to surrender congressional leverage to get it right in shaping TPP [the Trans-Pacific Partnership], the most significant trade negotiation in decades,” he said.
After the vote the bitter differences between lobbying groups continued.
American Soybean Association President Wade Cowan said “We are again encouraged by the House’s commitment to TPA and encourage the same commitment from the Senate.”
“For the better part of a decade, our partners at USTR [the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative] have been charged with baking a cake without having access to the full complement of ingredients, if you will,” Cowan said
“TPA would give them the authority and the resources they need to represent most completely the needs of American farmers in global trade agreements.”
National Farmers Union President Roger Johnson called the vote “a major setback for America's workers, farmers and ranchers and future prosperity" because he expects a trade deficit to continue.
“TPA is not a done deal. NFU will continue its fight against this legislation in each of its forms and for a more balanced approach to trade,” Johnson said.
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