Chairman Paul Ryan

The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act

The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act: Bringing Home Job-Creating Trade Agreements

What is TPA?

Answer: Enforcing Congress’s trade priorities.

The “Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act” (TPA) contains Congress’s directions to the Administration on how to negotiate free trade agreements and what to include.  TPA legislation was last enacted in 2002, and expired in 2007.  Most recently, TPA was used for Congressional consideration of implementing bills for Colombia, Panama, and South Korea free trade agreements (which were concluded before the 2007 deadline but not submitted for consideration until 2011). TPA includes three main components: 

1. A detailed list of Congressional objectives and directions for the Administration to follow and achieve. 

2. Mandatory Congressional consultation requirements. 

3. Rules to ensure that Congress has the final say in approving a trade agreement.  

Who supports TPA?

Answer: Republicans, Democrats, and the business community.

On January 9, 2014, leaders of the Ways and Means Committee and Senate Finance Committee introduced H.R. 3830, the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014 updating and expanding negotiation and consultation requirements. In the House, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) introduced the bill along with Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX) and Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA).

The White House, Department of Commerce, USTR, and Members of the New Democrat Coalition have all voiced their support for TPA as a key to concluding job-creating trade agreements.  The legislation also has widespread support in the business community including the Trade Benefits America Coalition, Business Roundtable, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, the Farm Bureau, and the Coalition of Services Industries, as well as companies in many sectors, including manufacturing, services, agriculture, high tech, and intellectual property, among others.

More support materials:

Speaker Boehner, Leader Cantor, Whip McCarthy and Conference Chair McMorris-Rodgers statement.
Washington Post ​Editorial "A free-trade bill that could help bolster the U.S. economy"
Former USTR Robert Zoellick "Leading from the front on free trade"
Washington Post Editorial "Free-trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership help the United States"
Wall Street Journal Editorial "Obama's Trade Test"
The Heritage Foundation "What Tea Party Supporters Should Know About Free Trade"
Business Roundtable "
New Poll Shows Vast Majority of Americans Support Trade Agreements"

Why is TPA necessary? 
Answer: American jobs.

TPA is the only way we can successfully bring international trade negotiations to a close and unlock job-creating opportunities for U.S. exports.  Currently, the U.S. is negotiating agreements with 11 Asia-Pacific economies, 28 Member countries of the European Union (EU), 22 other countries for a trade in services agreement (TISA), and 159 Members of the World Trade Organization.  Combined, U.S. negotiations with the Asia-Pacific and the EU would open markets with nearly 1 billion consumers, covering nearly two-thirds of the global economy, and 65 percent of global trade.  TISA covers about 50 percent of the global economy, as well, and over 70 percent of global services trade.

Trade supports more than 38 million jobs across America.  From innovative services by companies large and small, to agricultural goods produced by our farmers and ranchers, to the reliable tools and parts made by our domestic manufacturers, American-made products and services are in demand around the world. 

In fact, U.S. exports accounted for 14 percent of America’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2012 alone.  That same year, roughly $718 billion, or about 46 percent, of American-made products were exported to our trading partners.  To see how many jobs and exports trade supports in your state, click here

What are the negotiating objectives in the Congressional Bipartisan Trade Priorities Act of 2014 (TPA)? 

Answer: Open up trade opportunities for American employers and workers.

  • Expand U.S. opportunities to export and sell American goods and services by reducing foreign tariff (tax) and non-tariff (regulatory) barriers.  
  • Recognize the importance of the Internet as platform for international commerce.
  • Strengthen rules for agriculture that will expand the ability of American farmers and ranchers to gain access to foreign markets.  This includes requiring that foreign regulations be based on sound science and directing the Administration work to reduce or eliminate subsidies that would decrease U.S. market opportunities, among other provisions to protect U.S. interests.
  • Eliminate barriers to cross-border investment and protect U.S. investors from unfair or discriminatory treatment.
  • Strongly enforce IP rights, including preventing government involvement in violating IP rights. 
  • Direct the Administration to deal with countries that manipulate their currency.
  • Eliminate unfair competition favoring foreign-owned or controlled enterprises.
  • Eliminate measures, known as forced localization, that require U.S. services and exporters to locate assets in a country as a condition of doing business. 
  • Improve regulatory practices through regulatory coherence and promote strong transparency in regulation and standards development.
  • Promote global value chains – the full range of activities from creating, producing and exporting a product that can be divided among different companies across the globe – to expand market opportunities for the U.S. and obtain more open conditions for U.S. job creators.
  • Strong enforcement mechanisms to ensure once a trade agreement is entered into, the United States can hold our trading partners accountable.
  • Preserve trade remedy laws, so the United State can continue to rigorously enforce its trade laws.

How does TPA strengthen Congressional oversight and consultations?  

Answer: New and expanded requirements that the Administration must meet.

The bill includes a number of new and expanded consultation, transparency, and oversight provisions.  Of particular interest, H.R. 3830 statutorily ensures that every Member of Congress has access to negotiating text and requires USTR to meet and consult with any interested Member of Congress, at any time.  TPA also expands scope of the Administration’s consultation requirements before, during, and after negotiations.  It also provides that any Member of Congress can be designated as a Congressional Adviser, which means that they are automatically accredited to attend negotiating rounds and are consulted regularly.  TPA also requires transparency, as well as processes for public participation and collaboration through written guidelines on public engagement and on information-sharing with newly established advisory committees.  Furthermore, the Act expands reporting requirements on the effects of trade agreements and requires that all reports be made public.

What happens if the Administration does not follow the negotiating agreements or consultation requirements? 

Answer: The buck stops with Congress.

H.R. 3830 makes clear that only Congress can change U.S. law – trade agreements have no legal effect unless Congress considers, and passes, with an up-or-down vote, an implementing bill.  The bill also provides for consideration of a privileged disapproval resolution if the Administration fails to adequately consult, or if the agreement makes inadequate progress in meeting any of the Congressionally-mandated objectives.  

How does trade affect my state?

For more resources on how many jobs and exports are supported by trade in your state, click below:

More detailed information can be found below: