The Senate is set to vote on the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation the House passed last week that gives President Obama fast track trade authority to finalize his trade negotiations without Congressional amendments.
Right now, Obama is finalizing negotiations on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the Trade in Services Agreement (TiSA).
Under fast-track trade authority, Congress only gets an up or down vote on the final negotiation, and is not part of the negotiating process.
The legislation passed the House because it did not contain TAA – Trade Adjustment Assistance – a welfare program for displaced workers affected by the trade deals. Republicans and Democrats debated how to fund TAA.
The WH 2015 budget also didn’t include TAA in it as a stand-alone program, as President of Americans for Limited Government Rick Manning noted. Instead TAA was folded into a broader defined worker-training program.
“Killing Trade Adjustment Assistance, a welfare program that not even President Obama wants, would at least be a small consolation prize in the wake of the fast track vote,” Manning told Breitbart News. “Those supporting fast track repeatedly asserted the economic benefits of what they called free trade, we are urging them to hold true to their convictions and reject continuing the welfare program set up as a way to attract Democrat votes for trade deals.”
Manning added, “Since House Democrats voted in sufficient numbers for a stand-alone fast track bill, there simply is no reason for House Republicans to give them a TAA program that they neither demanded nor wanted.”
Americans for Limited Government is encouraging the Senate to vote down TPA on Tuesday due to more information coming out about Obama’s current trade negotiations, such as the fact that TiSA contains language that could alter current U.S. immigration law and also due to the fact that it’s been reported there is a “living agreement” provision within TPP, where additional countries can be added to the finalized trade deal without Senate approval.
Heritage Action is also calling for the Senate to vote down TPA, adding it will include it as a key vote on its legislative scorecard.
Heritage Action issued the following statement explaining its position:
While the bill does not contain the ineffective Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program, Republican leaders made clear in a joint statement that they will ensure the “President can sign [TAA] into law.” They even acknowledged “It’s a little bit of a high wire act” and that “Everybody knows we can’t have TPA without TAA, so we’ve got to get it passed.” In addition to the procedural gimmickry, the underlying substance has gotten worse. At the behest of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) abandoned the Senate-passed plan to use Medicare savings to pay for the renewal of TAA. The new pay for — included in H.R. 1295 which the Senate will also consider this week — increases revenue by raising certain tax penalties. New spending should not be offset by new revenues.
“Over the past month, the congressional process has spawned a special interest boondoggle that does more to advance big government than promote the virtues of free trade,” Heritage Action concluded.
The Senate vote is expected before noon on Tuesday.