The House finally passed legislation Wednesday to grant President Barack Obama trade promotion authority he needs to complete a multilateral free trade agreement in Asia. Still, there is no clearer indication that the latest attempt will prove successful in the Senate.
The House voted 218 to 208 to give the grant trade promotion authority to the president in a so-called “clean” bill, which means much of the worker protection and re-training program money the Senate insisted upon in its own legislation earlier this month is not included. The Senate must now decide is the House’s updated attempt is good enough.
“We urge the Senate to quickly consider the stand-alone TPA bill so it can move to the president’s desk … the world is watching the U.S. Congress and our nation’s commitment to free and open trade,” said National Retail Federation Senior Vice President for Government Relations David French.
In perhaps the biggest legislative defeat to President Obama to date, the U.S. House of Representatives rebuffed efforts on June 12 to grant trade promotion authority because there was not enough support of far left-championed worker protections included in a Senate version. As such, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that includes several emerging, desirable (but growingly impatient) Southeast Asian nations continues to hang in the balance.
The White House, moderate lawmakers and the greater business community have been rallying for the trade promotion authority to enable the Obama Administration to finalize the TPP deal because it would open markets like Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Vietnam. Supporters characterize public opposition from lawmakers—led for months by current buzz politician/media darling Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), among others—as misguided and largely based on inaccurate analysis and/or the behest of aggressive unions.
“Opponents of fast-track have been flying under the protectionist banner,” said Frances Smith, an adjunct fellow at CEI. “Protectionism may seem comfortable, but it destroys the future of the competitive economy of the U.S. and isolates us from the opportunities that free trade provides.”
An inability to break the impasse on giving the same trade promotion authority held by every president since the 1930s other than President Obama would render the advancement of the TPP all but fantasy.
- Brian Shappell, CBA, CICP, NACM managing editor
For more analysis and background on the TPA and TPP, read NACM’s latest edition of eNews, which will be available late Thursday afternoon at www.nacm.org, and previous posts here, NACM's Credit Real-Time blog.