Senate approves TPA and TAA bills
The Senate today gave final approval to the trade promotion authority bill by a vote of 60 to 38, then proceeded to invoke cloture on the trade adjustment assistance bill by a vote of 76 to 22 and pass that bill by voice vote.
The TPA bill was signed by House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, this afternoon, because the House already voted for it, and then went to President Barack Obama for his signature.
The TAA bill — which also includes the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act and other trade preferences — goes to the House for a final vote.
Although the trade adjustment assistance measure failed in the House on an earlier vote because House Democrats were trying to stop TAA, it is now expected to pass because House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said today she would vote for TAA now that it has been unlinked from TPA, Washington Trade Daily reported.
Obama has said he would sign the TPA bill only if it was accompanied by the TAA bill, which provides assistance to workers and farmers who have lost their jobs due to trade.
The Senate also agreed by voice vote to go to conference with the House on customs facilitation and trade enforcement legislation, WTD reported.
A wide range of agriculture and business groups praised the TPA passage and urged Obama to sign the bill so that U.S. negotiators can proceed with the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations and other trade measures.
The groups included:
▪ Trade Benefits Coalition
▪ American Farm Bureau Federation
▪ National Association of Wheat Growers
▪ National Corn Growers Association
▪ United Fresh Produce Association
▪ Western Growers
▪ National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
▪ American Feed Industry Association
▪ American Soybean Association
▪ National Pork Producers Council
▪ Sweetener Users Association
▪ National Milk Producers Federation
▪ U.S. Dairy Export Council
▪ Distilled Spirits Council
The National Foreign Trade Council praised the passage of TPA, TAA and the trade preferences bill.
“Both TAA and preferences are crucial components of U.S. trade policy, and we call on the House to pass the bill and get it to the president’s desk for signature,” NFTC said in a news release.
The AFL-CIO continued to raise procedural issues about the trade votes, but House Ways and Means Committee ranking member Sander Levin, D-Mich., said the focus must now be on TPP.
“With TPA passed, the focus must now be on the vital outstanding issues in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations,” Levin said.
“To get TPP on track, the negotiations must now incorporate in language and action core international labor standards, a high level of environmental protection, and the same access to affordable medicines that we included in the May 10th agreement,” Levin said.
“We must take steps to be sure our TPP trading partners don’t manipulate their currencies to gain an unfair advantage over our business and workers, he said.
“We need to insist that our trading partners offer truly reciprocal access to their agricultural and automotive markets. And we need to prevent investors from challenging legitimate public welfare measures in special international tribunals.”
He continued, “Only then would TPP be moving on the right track, be worthy of the support of the American people, and gain the votes of a much broader coalition of members of Congress than voted for TPA. The issue is not pro-trade versus anti-trade, but whether we shape trade agreements to spread the benefits broadly, including to middle class Americans.”
–The Hagstrom Report