Ways and Means passes TPA bill
The House Ways and Means Committee late today passed the bill granting President Barack Obama trade promotion authority.
The bill, titled the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act, passed the committee on a 25-13 vote, with two Democrats – Reps. Ron Kind of Wisconsin and Earl Blumenauer of Oregon – joining all committee Republicans in support.
The TPA bill, which has already passed the Senate Finance Committee, now heads to the floor in each chamber. Timing is uncertain, but Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, has said he wants the Senate to act on it in May.
The Ways and Means Committee decision to send it to the House floor also creates a positive atmosphere for the state visit of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Washington next week.
Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said in a statement, “Today we took an important step toward a healthier economy and stronger American leadership in the world. This bill will help us achieve the best trade agreements for American workers and job creators. It will allow the United States — instead of China — to write the rules of the economy. And it will hold the president accountable to Congress.
“TPA puts Congress in the driver’s seat of trade negotiations and provides the transparency that Americans deserve,” he added. “I want to thank all the members of the committee who helped us get here, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House to pass this bill into law soon.”
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association President and Chugwater, Wyo., cattleman Philip Ellis praised the committee action.
“TPA is critical to negotiating future free trade agreements. Cattlemen urge swift passage of this legislation by the full House and Senate,” Ellis said.
The Sweetener Users Association, which represents candy makers and other industrial sugar users, urged the House and Senate leadership to schedule floor votes as soon as possible, so that U.S. trade negotiators could use the authority to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.
But the American Sugar Cane League, which represents the Louisiana sugar cane industry, said, “It’s important that the [TPP] trade agreement doesn’t trade away the ability of our 220-year-old industry to compete. But it’s not just about Louisiana. It also about the effect TPP could have on the 20 other sugar-producing states in the country.”
Jim Simon, manager of the American Sugar Cane League, said, “Mexico, a U.S. North American Free Trade Agreement trading partner, depressed sugar prices by dumping subsidized sugar on the American market.”
The broader Trade Benefits Coalition, which is led by the Business Roundtable, noted that 269 businesses, associations, and agriculture groups had written Ways and Means members, urging them to vote for the bill.
–The Hagstrom Report