• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Trade Promotion Authority Should Mean Authority to Promote Trade—Period

    There’s a good chance Congress will consider legislation this summer to extend trade promotion authority (TPA) to President Obama. If it does, lawmakers should pay especially close attention to the wording of the bill.

    TPA is the legislative vehicle that allows the President to negotiate with other countries on beneficial trade agreements. The purpose of trade promotion authority is, obviously, to promote trade. If properly designed, TPA is an effective way to expand trade and economic freedom. However, a poorly worded TPA bill could allow implementing legislation for future trade agreements to be used for other purposes.

    For example, under the last extension of TPA, Congress agreed to consider legislation that implemented trade agreements negotiated by the President on an up-or-down vote. This implementing legislation could include changes in laws that were “necessary or appropriate to implement such trade agreement or agreements, either repealing or amending existing laws or providing new statutory authority.”

    When the South Korea–U.S. free trade agreement (KORUS) came up for a vote two years ago, the Obama Administration used this language as justification to try to attach Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA)—which provides federal aid to those supposedly hurt by trade—to the implementing legislation for KORUS. At the time, TAA supporters argued that such assistance was “necessary and appropriate.”

    Trade expert Phil Levy observed at the time that TPA “was hard to come by even in the best of circumstances. What chance would it have now, if it is interpreted as giving any White House the right to attach controversial and unrelated spending measures in a protected way?”

    This is exactly why it is important to clarify how TPA works. Every U.S. President should have the authority to negotiate beneficial trade agreements. However, TPA was never intended to be a blank check. Congress should make it clear that future trade agreements submitted for implementation under TPA cannot be hijacked as a vehicle on which to attach extraneous provisions.

    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

    Comments are closed.

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.

    ×