Boehner: Without TPA ‘We’re Never Going To Know What’s There’

J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo
J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) is reacting to concerns about the secrecy surrounding trade agreements that would be fast-tracked should upcoming Trade Promotion Authority legislation pass, by arguing TPA grants Congress more power.

“There’s a trade negotiation going on and like any other negotiation that goes on, you don’t want to air out what everybody’s positions are. That’s not what we’re voting on. By passing Trade Promotion Authority we’ll actually give Congress more openness more involvement in what the trade agreement may look like if we ever get one and goal posts along the way,” Boehner told reporters Thursday.

He added that TPA would allow for more congressional involvement.

“So if in fact there is going to be a trade agreement with the Asians or a trade agreement with the Europeans, Trade Promotion Authority allows us, here in the Congress, to outline what those goal posts should be, what the objectives should be, and gives us a part in helping advise the administration in the development of our position and in those discussions,” he said. “Without Trade Promotion Authority we’re never going to know what’s there.”

Wednesday, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI), a top trade advocate, also noted during a House Rules Committee hearing that the upcoming trade deal would be revealed once TPA is passed.

“It’s declassified and made public once it’s agreed to,” Ryan said.

The House is slated to vote on TPA Friday and it is expected to be tight. Thursday the Speaker expressed confidence but would not offer any guarantees, saying, “I’m not in the guaranteeing business. We’re working hard to get there.”

He noted that both Republicans and Democrats have concerns about the TPA, saying that while the GOP has been doing its part to move TPA, he hopes the Democrats will do theirs as well.

Boehner further pointed at the unions for helping to create more opposition to the effort.

“After the unions locked down most of the Democrats they turned their fire on conservative Republican households and shoving mail into these districts, raising other concerns from the right,” he said. So we’ve got members on both sides of the aisle who’ve got concerns about this and we’ve been working our way through this process and I feel good about it.”