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10 Things TPA Is & Isn’t About

April 24, 2015

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This week, the House Ways & Means Committee approved H.R. 1890, the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act (TPA), legislation strengthening the nation’s ability to secure the best trade agreements for our workers and our economy.

Read the bill here, and check out this top 10 list of things TPA is and isn’t about:

  1. TPA is about more jobs and better pay. Trade supports more than 1 in 5 American jobs, and manufacturing jobs tied to trade pay 16 percent more.  This plan will mean stronger agreements with fewer trade barriers, which means more jobs and better pay for hardworking people.
  1. TPA is about a level playing field. America has some of the lowest trade barriers in the world, but the countries we compete and negotiate with make it as hard as they can for us to sell our products to their consumers. This plan will lead to agreements with strong and enforceable rules that put our workers, manufacturers, farmers, ranchers, and exporters on a level playing field, where they can outcompete anyone.
  1. TPA is about common ground. This legislation creates a partnership whereby the administration negotiates based on priorities and objectives approved by Congress.  In other words, it does exactly what the American people send us here to do:  build common ground and show a united front to the world.  Otherwise, it’s the same old story:  the Obama administration going off on its own, and our allies and partners confused about America’s intentions.
  1. TPA is about unprecedented transparency. This legislation applies ‘Read The Bill’ principles to trade agreements.  For the first time, the text of any completed trade agreement must be made public for at least 60 days before the president may sign.   In addition, the administration will have to publish detailed summaries of our specific objectives for any negotiation.
  1. TPA is about clear benchmarks for success. With our plan, we will set nearly 150 clear objectives on priorities like protections for intellectual property rights, rules for agricultural trade, labor standards, and measures to combat currency manipulation. This includes objectives that address the unique issues facing the global economy in the 21st century.  Americans like to keep score, and TPA will allow them to do just that.
  1. TPA is about clear accountability for failure. Only if the administration follows the objectives and fulfills the transparency requirements will there be an up-or-down vote on any agreement.  If those conditions aren’t met, a trade agreement can be stopped.  It’s that clear-cut.
  1. TPA is about bolstering American leadership. At a time when the world is desperate for American leadership, this plan will make it easier for the United States to write the rules of the global economy.  If we don’t do it, China and our toughest competitors most certainly will.
  1. TPA is about listening to the American people. This initaitive is backed by just about everyone:  manufacturers and farmers, major employers and local businesses, conservatives and newspapers, Barack Obama and Ted Cruz, you name it.  Trade is good for America, and America agrees.
  1. TPA isn’t about Congress and the president. The new ‘authority’ in this bill flows to the American people – not Washington, and certainly not the president.  TPA is designed to make sure that, when our negotiators are at the table, their priorities are the people’s priorities.
  1. TPA isn’t about immigration. Any trade agreement this administration makes is going to be subject to scrutiny with regards to immigration.  Given the executive overreach we’ve seen, that’s no surprise.  That’s exactly why we need TPA, which specifically bars the president from making any changes to our laws, and why we’ll have the power to stop any trade agreements.

BONUS: TPA isn’t about politics. This legislation enjoys support from Republicans and Democrats across the country, and it will need strong bipartisan support to pass.  As Speaker Boehner has said, “This bill will have strong support from House Republicans.  We’ll do our part, but the president must do his part as well.”