WASHINGTON — In this week’s Republican Address, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) discusses advancing America’s trade agenda with more accountability and transparency by establishing trade promotion authority. The address concludes a busy week, during which the Trade Priorities and Accountability Act was successfully passed by the committee and sent to the full House of Representatives.
“This week, our committee passed a bill that we are pretty excited about. It would establish what we call TPA—or ‘trade promotion authority.’ And soon that bill will go before Congress.
“I think this is one of the most important things Congress can do for the country right now. So, here’s the issue.
“Right now, the United States is negotiating two historic trade agreements—one with our friends on the Pacific Rim and another with our friends in Europe. We need these trade agreements so we can lay down fair and strong rules that tear down trade barriers and open markets to American products.
“Ninety six percent of the world’s consumers—they don’t live in the United States; they live in other countries. We have to make more things in America and sell them overseas, so we can create more jobs here at home. And when we do, America’s workers will benefit. Manufacturing jobs that rely on trade pay 16 percent more on average.
“But today, the deck is stacked against our workers in far too many places. We let other countries sell their products over here. But they’ve put up trade barriers that make it hard to sell our products over there.
“These trade agreements will level the playing field for America’s workers. But to complete them, we need TPA.
“So what is it?
“TPA is a process for getting the most effective trade agreements possible—and holding the administration accountable all along the way.
“TPA puts Congress in the driver’s seat—because it lets Congress set the agenda. We say to the administration three things. First, here are your negotiating objectives—150 of them. Tear down barriers to our products. Beef up protections for our intellectual property. Get rid of kickbacks for foreign-government firms.
“Second, here are your transparency requirements. To name a few: You’ve got to let any member of Congress read the negotiating offers at any time. You even have to allow any member to attend the negotiating rounds. And 60 days before the administration even agrees to any agreement, you’ve got to publish the full text so the American people can read it for themselves.
“And third, Congress gets the final say. If you meet all the requirements, we’ll give the agreement an up-or-down vote—without amendment. This will give our trading partners the confidence they need to make their best offers.
“But if the administration doesn’t do all we’ve said, we can cancel the vote, change it, or stop it completely. In short, TPA will hold the administration accountable and get us the highest quality agreements possible.
“The stakes are high—because in the global economy, if you’re not moving forward, you’re falling behind. China is negotiating trade deals all over the world, and they’re trying to rig the rules in their favor. So it all comes down to this question: Is China going to write the rules of the global economy, or are we?
“Are we going to rise to the occasion and provide American leadership in the world?
“This is our challenge—and our opportunity. We have a chance here to write the rules on our terms. . . to raise other countries to our standards . . . to create more opportunity for our people.
“All across the country, people are coming together to support TPA: farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, Democrats, Republicans. Theyknow the stakes. They know what this means for our country. And Congress should not let them down.
“We’re the only country that can do this. We’re the only country that can stand up for free enterprise and the rule of law. This is our moment. It’s our chance to lead . . . to restore American leadership in the world.
“We’ve still got a lot of work to do. But it all begins with TPA and this vote. Thank you.”