Monday, June 15, 2015

Fw: Answering Your Questions on TAA, TPA, & TPP

Congressman Forbes sent the message below in response to the displeasure at his vote on TPA.
But, if it is true that TPA (Trade Promotion Authority or Fast Track) limits what Obama can do as he contends , then why is Obama fighting tooth and nail to get it passed?   Are we to believe that he is fighting for a measure that would limit him?
What TPA would do is make passage of the  trade pact,  TPP  (Trans Pacific Partnership) ) much easier. 
TPP is really a treaty. But it cannot get passed as such , lacking the number of Senator  votes needed.  
So it is called an  agreement which requires much fewer votes.   But it is still a squeeze, so the proponents came up with TPA which would mean that 
TPA would be passed with no amendments,  debate limited to seconds  per legislator and only an up or down vote.
As for " Free trade is a core tenant of conservative values"  this is true as envisioned by Adam Smith.   But this is not what TPP is  about.
If it were, one page would suffice.   What is in the other hundreds of pages that we are not allowed to see.
Should we have another bill that we have to pass to know what is in it?
Attachments provide more insight and for more on Fast Track which might be up for a vote on Tuesday, the 16th.


Sue Long


On Monday, June 15, 2015 6:45 PM, Randy Forbes <> wrote:

To:  Citizens of Virginia's Fourth District
From:  Congressman Randy Forbes
Date:  June 15, 2015
Subject: Answering Your Questions on TAA, TPA, & TPP
Last week, the House voted on a number of trade bills. Because of the different procedural votes, many people watching found it confusing to follow what was happening on the House floor on Friday. I've been able to hear from many of you via direct conversations, phone calls, and emails, and -- while 68% of those who took my weekly poll said they support of TPA to expand free trade -- I know some still have questions and concerns. 

That's why I've put together this brief guide answering some of the most common questions I've heard, and laying out where we go from here.

What did the House vote on last Friday?  The House of Representatives voted separately on two prongs of a trade package titled the Trade Act of 2015 – here's the breakdown on both in the order they were voted on: 
  • In what many reports are calling a major defeat for the President, TAA (Trade Adjustment Assistance) was voted on and defeated on the House Floor this past Friday. I voted against TAA, which is an ineffective government unemployment program that costs taxpayers over $1 billion annually to provide benefits to displaced workers who have been impacted by foreign competitors. The Obama Administration has used very loose eligibility standards for TAA benefits, raising concerns that this program not only burdens taxpayers, but also increases the size and scope of the federal government, which is why I voted against this part of the legislation.
  • Separately, I supported language that allows Congress to set the rules for negotiating free trade agreements – so America can get the best deal possible. The President already possesses the authority to negotiate trade agreements on his own. I believe it is critical that we limit the President's trade negotiating authority, and create a framework around the Administration's negotiations, with strict standards for accountability and oversight, as Congress has done to every Administration since Franklin D. Roosevelt.
    That's why it was important that the House passed TPA (Trade Promotion Authority) – which it did, with my support -- to put Congress in the driver's seat, and to mandate that the final text of any free trade agreement be made public and posted online for 60 days before the agreement can go into effect. TPA is supported by many prominent conservatives as well as businesses in the Fourth District (as discussed below).

Did the trade package ultimately pass? 
No – because TAA failed, the Trade Act of 2015 (which included TPA) was not sent to the President for his signature.
So was there a vote on an actual trade agreement on Friday?  No – the House only voted on TAA and TPA. The free trade agreement you have been hearing about is called TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership). A vote on TPP itself is at least 4-5 months away and can ONLY happen after the requirements of TPA have been met. One of these requirements is that, for the first time, the full text of the final trade agreement must be made public and posted online for 60 days. Only then does the agreement go to Congress for debate and a final vote. See below:
                  (TPA Bill Text)

Do conservatives support TPA?
  Free trade is a core tenant of conservative values and many prominent conservative individuals and organizations have been outspoken in their support of trade promotion authority, including (click below to read their comments):
Even President Ronald Reagan himself was a staunch advocate of free trade, saying, "The freer the flow of world trade, the stronger the tides for human progress and peace among nations."

Ok, but I'm concerned that Congress is giving up too much power to the President. Does that concern you?  I have been an outspoken opponent of the Administration's unconstitutional, unilateral actions on issues regarding immigration, healthcare, and many others.  That is why a key part of TPA is that Congress retains its ability to vote to reject any free trade agreement, and that the House of Representatives has the power to "switch-off" TPA at any time if the President doesn't follow the law or congressional intent. The current TPA agreement maintains strict oversight abilities and makes sure Congress has the final say, not the President. Read more.

(For an explanation of the top myths about TPA, you can read more here from The Federalist.)

…then why are these trade agreements being negotiated in secret?  Here's how it works under TPA:
  • While the full text of the trade agreement (TPP) won't be public until the final version has been hammered out, any Member of Congress can access the text, which is kept at the Capitol for their viewing convenience. In fact, just last week, I was able to review the current version of the text.
  • However, you can read the entire text of the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which specifically outlines the requirements the President MUST meet, here, or you can read a summary of the bill, here.
  • Throughout trade negotiations, the Administration is also required to provide detailed briefings for Members and make public summaries of the negotiations available for all Americans to review.
  • For the first time, under this TPA bill, the full text of any free trade agreement must be made public and posted online before the President can even sign off on it. That's 60 days for the American people and Congress to review, analyze, and evaluate the deal.
  • Then, before the agreement can legally go into effect, it must come to Congress for a vote. If the objectives outlined in TPA are not met, or Congress isn't satisfied by the final agreement, both the House of Representatives and the Senate retain their constitutional right to reject the final text of any trade agreement.
Now, imagine if we had TPA-level transparency for the Iran nuclear deal that the President is presently negotiating...
Where do employers in Virginia's Fourth District stand on TPA? Throughout this debate, I've heard from a number of small businesses, employees, organizations, and stakeholders across the Fourth District and the Commonwealth who support the passage of TPA. Here are just a few:

Already, trade supports 1.1 million jobs in Virginia, and the majority of the U.S. companies that export goods are small or medium-sized businesses. With roughly three-quarters of world purchasing power and almost 95% of world consumers outside America's borders, ensuring access to these growing markets is essential to strengthening and diversifying Virginia's business climate and ensuring future economic growth.

…but isn't this just exporting jobs overseas?  When the U.S. competes on a level playing field, our businesses and workers win.  Business owners, manufacturers, and entrepreneurs across the country agree new trade agreements would mean better, higher-paying jobs for American workers and more American-made products abroad. In fact, just recently, the National Association of Manufacturers released a statement calling for the immediate passage of TPA to, "expand opportunities for manufacturers to sell our products overseas, increase global competitiveness and fuel our ability to grow and create jobs, or vote to keep manufacturers on the sidelines and at a global disadvantage."

I've heard people tie TPA to China. How are the two connected?
  The simple fact is, if we don't engage in writing the rules of the global economy, China will. 
  • Currently, China is aggressively moving to strengthen their trade partnerships around the world.  In fact, the Chinese recently concluded trade agreements with over ten countries in the Asia-Pacific region in order to compete with the U.S.
  • Further delays on TPA by the United States give China a strategic advantage in establishing the rules of the road for trade in the region, impacting U.S. national security and the interests of our Asia-Pacific allies. Learn more.
  • Further, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) makes up the world's third-most populous region and is expected to rise by over 10% -- reaching up to 690 million – by 2020. Cutting ourselves out of this growing market by ceding it to China means cutting American companies out of opportunities for exponential economic growth.
At the end of the day, we must ask ourselves: who is going to write the rules for the global economy — America or China?

Does TPA/TPP impact immigration at all?  No it does not. However some have asserted that TPA could be used as a vehicle for the Administration to allow free migration of labor and override national immigration restrictions. In response to these concerns, I supported the addition of an amendment to the annual funding bill for the U.S. Trade Representative, explicitly prohibiting the Administration from negotiating changes to existing immigration laws. You can read the full text of the amendment, here.

Will TPA give away Congressional or Constitutional authority to international committees or commissions?  No, TPA does not cede American sovereignty over any aspect of our nation's laws, regulations, or Constituent. In fact, TPA includes language that reaffirms that Congress—and only Congress—can change U.S. law, and no agreements can take effect without congressional approval. Read more.

In summary…
Free trade is not only crucial to our economy in the Commonwealth, but also to our future as a country. If we don't secure new trade agreements, we are falling behind and ceding our leadership to nations that don't share our commitment to free enterprise and the rule of law. That's why it was crucial Congress acted to ensure the United States plays a leadership role in writing the rules of the global economy, and in enforcing a strong rules-based trading system so our American companies, farmers, manufactures, and workers can compete internationally and create jobs here at home.                   
Yours in service,

P.S. Read what Virginia employers are saying about TPA, in their own words, here.
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