Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) and Trade Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) issued the following statements today upon House passage of the trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea and GSP/TAA:
Chairman Camp stated: “Today, the House passed on a bipartisan basis some of the most important job-creating legislation in the last several years by approving our trade agreements with Colombia, Panama and South Korea. Passage has been delayed for years, costing American workers, farmers and businesses valuable customers in those markets.
“The President’s own metrics indicate that these agreements have the ability to create 250,000 good-paying American jobs. Today’s vote in the House demonstrates the broad bipartisan support these agreements have, and I commend the President for recognizing that these agreements can create badly-needed jobs here at home. Best of all, they create jobs without any new government spending.
“These agreements will remove taxes on the goods U.S. companies export to these countries and address key non-tariff barriers that prevent our companies from competing on a level playing field. Such trade agreements are a proven way to grow the economy: Between 2000 and 2010, total U.S. exports increased by just over 60 percent – but our exports to countries with which we have trade agreements increased by over 90 percent.
“In addition to the trade agreements, today’s trade package included Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) legislation that the White House insisted on before it would send the three trade agreements to Congress and allow them to move forward. The TAA program that we passed today, and that the Senate recently passed, was significantly cut, made more efficient and accountable, is sunset after 2014, and does not contribute to the deficit because it is fully offset with spending cuts. The core principles of our conference – ensuring smaller government and cutting spending – were my guiding light in negotiating the TAA agreement with Senator Baucus and the White House. I am also pleased that we are sending to the President legislation to extend the Generalized System of Preferences, which makes our manufacturers more competitive and reduces prices for U.S. consumers.
“We want America to compete and win, and today’s action shows our friends and allies around the world that America is leading again by resurrecting a robust trade agenda.”
Chairman Brady added: “By approving these three sales agreements with our long-standing partners in Colombia, Panama and South Korea, Congress has leveled the playing field so that America’s manufacturers, farmers and technology companies can compete for new customers in these growing economies and create good-paying jobs here in America.
“With strong bipartisan support in Congress, today we signal to the world that America is back on the global trading field. America has stood on the sidelines for far too long, losing its credibility as a serious, reliable trade leader and allowing America to fall behind our global competitors. That ends today.
“I urge President Obama to promptly certify these agreements and ensure entry into force by January 1, 2012. I also urge the President to build on this strong bipartisan support for trade by moving swiftly to complete the Trans Pacific Partnership and work with Republicans in Congress on a forward thinking, aggressive trade agenda for the future.
“I applaud Ways & Means Chairman Dave Camp and Speaker John Boehner for their strong leadership in the House to pass these agreements, and I thank President Obama and Ambassador Ron Kirk for their hard work and commitment to completing these agreements in a manner to attract the strongest bi-artisan support. “
H.R. 3078, “The United States-Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act” passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 262–167.
H.R. 3079, “The United States-Panama Trade Promotion Agreement Implementation Act” passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 300–129.
H.R. 3080, “The United States-Korea Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act” passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 278-151.
H.R. 2832, the Generalized System of Preferences/Trade Adjustment Assistance Bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 307–122. This bill has already passed the Senate.