LLPH is issuing the following key votes on the Trade Promotion Authority (H.R. 1314-the vehicle for the bill): “YES” on Flake Amendment to Strike Trade Adjustment Assistance from the bill, “YES” on Sessions Amendments to Provide Congress with more Authority over the trade deals than this bill provides, and “NO” on Final Passage of the Trade Promotion Authority bill unless our two main problems with the bill are solved.
First, Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) will be presenting an amendment to strike the Trade Adjustment Assistance program reauthorization from the bill. The Trade Adjustment Assistance program is being included to buy the votes of Democrats. Our friends at Freedomworks are also key voting in favor of the amendment, and they explain why we should oppose this program:
TAA gives subsidies—in the form of job training for workers and direct financial assistance for firms—to those purported to be harmed by increased international trade. From a public policy standpoint, trying to “correct” for job losses in particular sectors as a result of increased competition is simply wrongheaded. In order for an economy to grow and thrive, industries need to be flexible and able to change with changing market conditions. Trying to prop up industries that cannot compete on their own merely delays the inevitable and inhibits growth.
TAA has also been proven by multiple studies to be ineffective, and it is duplicative of several other federal jobs programs. Finally, the eligibility standards for TAA are notoriously loose, meaning that some companies are able to cash in despite not actually having been impacted by foreign trade.
The government should not have this program which is why we urge Senators to vote YES on the Flake Amendment or any other related amendment to strike Trade Adjustment Assistance from the bill.
LLPH urges Senators to vote NO on Final Passage of the Trade Promotion Authority unless two improvements are made to the bill. First, passing the Flake Amendment would be the first step to improving the bill. Second, Congress must be given the authority to amend these trade deals. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), a leader against this bill, put out a fact sheet on how this bill cedes Congressional review of trade agreements:
Myth: Congress will have more control over the trade process under fast-track.
Truth: If Congress gives the Executive six-year fast-track authority, the Senate will cede its ability to amend any future legislation implementing any yet-unseen global trade and regulatory pact; cede its ability to control debate over that pact; and cede its ability to subject that pact to the 67-vote threshold required for treaties, as well as the 60-vote threshold required for important legislation. Proponents of fast-track suggest the negotiating objectives somehow bind the Administration; this is false. The negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership are nearly complete and have been ongoing for years, long before any negotiating objectives will have been suggested. Moreover, the negotiating objectives are vague and lack any meaningful enforcement mechanisms—particularly enforcement from Senators and Representatives not on the revenue committees. Congress will be giving up the only leverage it has: the ability to amend legislation or to refuse to cut-off debate. No fast-tracked deal has ever been defeated, regardless of whether fast-track “objectives” have been ignored, overlooked, or violated by the Executive.
Myth: Congress is ceding no institutional powers under fast-track.
Truth: By eliminating its own powers of review and amendment, Congress would dramatically shift the carefully calibrated balance of power between Congress and the President. Fast-track would ensure that the President has complete discretion over the drafting of international agreements Congress has never even seen.
Myth: If the President ignores the negotiating objectives, Congress can simply block the deal.
Truth: A fast-tracked trade deal has never been blocked. By denying members any opportunity to slow debate, mobilize the public by seeking extra time, amend the deal, or seek a better deal, fast-tracked legislation is always ratified no matter how flawed. The train will have left the station once fast-track is adopted. Without any possibility of a 60-vote, let alone 67-vote, threshold in the Senate, this final check will have been removed. Additionally, the revenues and rules committees have exclusive control over enforcement, eliminating the ability of rank-and-file members to hold the Administration accountable for violations. Those saying Congress can just vote down a bad trade deal ignore the unbroken cycle of history.
Senator Sessions or one of the other senators is expected to present amendments to give more authority back to the Congress. If these amendments are voted on, LLPH will urge a YES vote and may score this amendments in our scorecard.
Without passage of the Flake Amendment and the Sessions Amendment or some equivalent, LLPH will urge all Senators to vote NO on Final Passage of the TPA and will score this vote in our scorecard. It is time to stand up for the Constitution, limited government, and the working men and women of our nation.