Trade Promotion Authority – or TPA – is a process between Congress and the executive branch for negotiating free trade agreements that has been employed in some form for over 80 years. Conservatives support renewing TPA now because it enhances transparency and accountability in trade negotiations and puts Congress in charge of setting trade objectives that the administration must follow.
The full text of TPA can be found here.
Here is what conservatives are saying about TPA:
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) supporting the passage of TPA:
“By passing Trade Promotion Authority, we create a path for trade agreements to reduce government-created barriers to prosperity. More economic growth will expand opportunity to those working to climb the economic ladder and achieve the American Dream.
“This bill increases the transparency of trade deals considered under its rules. It requires the public posting of the full text of any such agreement for at least 60 days before Congress begins consideration and reaffirms that Congress gets the final say.”
Ted Cruz and Paul Ryan joint column in the Wall Street Journal – Three important ways that TPA puts Congress and the American people in charge on trade:
“Under TPA, Congress lays out three basic requirements for the administration. First, it must pursue nearly 150 specific negotiating objectives, like beefing up protections for U.S. intellectual property or eliminating kickbacks for government-owned firms. Second, the administration must consult regularly with Congress and meet high transparency standards.
“And third, before anything becomes law, Congress gets the final say. The Constitution vests all legislative power in Congress. So TPA makes it clear that Congress—and only Congress—can change U.S. law. If the administration meets all the requirements, Congress will give the agreement an up-or-down vote. But if the administration fails, Congress can hit the brakes, cancel the vote and stop the agreement.”
Charles Krauthammer on the erroneous claim that TPA – sometimes referred to as “fast track” – cedes power to the president:
“Having strongly opposed Obama’s constitutional usurpations on immigration, health care, criminal justice and environmental regulation, I’m deeply sympathetic to that concern. But in this case, there is no usurpation. There is no congressional forfeiture of power. Fast track has been the norm for 81 years. And the final say on any trade agreement rests entirely with Congress.”
Congressman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee:
“It is no secret that I disagree with our president on practically every issue under the sun and do not trust his administration. President Obama has clearly overstepped his constitutional authority on numerous occasions, and his actions on the international stage thus far have only weakened American influence in the world. It is for this very reason that passage of TPA is so important.
“The executive branch has always maintained the authority to negotiate trade agreements. TPA merely sets in place a process to negotiate potential trade deals, while maintaining the constitutional authority of Congress to finalize any such agreement or treaty. Again, TPA is not a trade agreement; it is a trade-negotiation process, nothing more and nothing less. Rather than reducing congressional input into future trade deals, TPA enhances congressional involvement and oversight during negotiations while requiring additional transparency for the public by mandating that any potential agreement must be publicly available for 60 days before Congress can act. In other words, everyone will have a chance to read it before they ‘vote’ on it.”
In addition to its unprecedented oversight and accountability features, conservatives support TPA because it puts the United States in a stronger position to secure the best possible trade deals for American producers, workers and consumers.
In calling on Congress to renew TPA, a coalition of 22 conservative organizations – including the American Conservative Union, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, and Taxpayers Protection Alliance – cite TPA as a critical step to advancing a conservative free trade agenda:
“On behalf of the free market, taxpayer advocacy, and limited government grassroots and public policy organizations listed below, we urge you to pass Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) as soon as possible.
“TPA is a necessary step to get Congress moving on a long-stalled trade agenda. Without it, there is little hope that this Congress will make any progress on advancing free trade, a conservative public policy goal which all our organizations support.”
Joint editorial by conservative economists and columnists Larry Kudlow, Arthur Laffer, and Stephen Moore – U.S. trade deals negotiated under TPA bring job growth and economic strength:
“About 1 in 5 manufacturing jobs in the U.S. is tied to exports. With America now enjoying the lowest energy costs among all our industrial competitors, production costs are falling — even with higher wages here. So freer trade will help our manufacturing workers.
“The pay of workers in trade-dominated industries is 15% to 20% higher than for workers in industries insulated from foreign competition. This is in part due to industries trading in global markets needing to be more efficient and becoming more capital intensive — which means higher pay.
“Over the past decade (2003-13), U.S. exports have doubled from $1.04 trillion to $2.3 trillion. A Heritage Foundation study finds, “International trade has boosted annual U.S. income by at least 10 percentage points of GDP relative to what it would have been without global engagement, which translates into an aggregate gain of at least $1.7 trillion in 2013, or an average gain of more than $13,600 per U.S. household per year.” Trade makes us richer, not poorer.”
TPA also has widespread support among former defense leaders and U.S. Secretaries of State because free trade is an essential pillar of our nation’s international strength and influence. Through the congressional mandated objectives in TPA, the United States can seize the strategic opportunity to write the rules of the 21st Century global economy.
Endorsement of TPA by 17 former U.S. military leaders and Secretaries of Defense, including General Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, and Robert Gates:
“We write to express our strongest possible support for the enactment of Trade Promotion Authority legislation, which is critical to the successful conclusion of two vital trade agreements: the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
“While the economic benefits of both these agreements would be substantial, as former Secretaries of Defense and military leaders we believe there is an equally compelling strategic rationale for TPP and TTIP.
“Indeed, TPP in particular will shape an economic dynamic over the next several decades that will link the United States with one of the world’s most vibrant and dynamic regions. If, however, we fail to move forward with TPP, Asian economies will almost certainly develop along a China- centric model. In fact, China is already pursuing an alternative regional free trade initiative. TPP, combined with T-TIP, would allow the United States and our closest allies to help shape the rules and standards for global trade.”
Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice – The long-term strategic and economic interests of the United States demand that America lead on trade:
“…the larger issue is what trade-promotion authority says about America’s role in the world. Our allies will read a failure to renew this authority as further evidence that we have lost interest in sustaining the international order. They already worry that others, China in particular, stand ready to fill the vacuum.
“…trade is an essential element of a strategy that long ago placed faith in the proposition that the future would belong to free peoples and free markets. That is why I urge Congress to renew trade-promotion authority. The United States cannot afford to be sidelined, ceding the ground to those who do not share our values and our interests. Future generations would pay dearly for that choice.”
For more information on the ways TPA strengthens transparency and accountability in trade negotiations, promotes a conservative free trade agenda, and helps advance U.S. strategic interests, please click here.
Additional articles by conservatives in support of TPA:
- National Review Editorial Board: Yes to Trade-Promotion Authority
- Wall Street Journal Editorial Board: An American Trade Watershed
- Washington Examiner Editorial Board: Congress should ignore Hillary, pursue trade agreements with optimism
- Merrill Matthews, resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation located in Dallas: Why Republicans Should Give Obama Trade Promotion Authority
- Texas Public Policy Foundation: Trans-Pacific Partnership Will Fuel The Texas Job Engine
- Tom Schatz, President of Citizens Against Government Waste: Free trade is not a free hand for the president
- Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform: Who doesn’t want $123 billion? Why the trade deal must be done.
- American Enterprise Institute: TPA Hits the Right Notes
- CATO Institute: TPA Is Not an Executive Power Grab
- Competitive Enterprise Institute: Why the TPA is Needed