By Barbara Olejnik
Poultry Times Staff
GAINESVILLE, Ga. — The U.S. House of Representatives has moved a step closer to providing the president with the authority to negotiate trade deals.
The House passed the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) on June 17 with a 218-208 vote to give the administration so-called ‘fast track’ authority in which a trade deal can be presented to the Congress for an up or down vote, but with no amendments.
An earlier House vote had also passed the TPA measure, but because it was tied to another piece of legislation, the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), that was defeated, the TPA bill couldn’t move forward.
House lawmakers had approved trade negotiating power for the president on a 219-211 vote on June 12. But House members, mostly Democrats, voted down legislation which would have renewed federal aid for workers who lose their jobs due to imports. Rules required that the House approve both parts of the legislation, which had been previously approved by the Senate.
This latest vote separated out the Trade Promotion Authority legislation from the Trade Adjustment Assistance legislation and the TPA now goes to the Senate for action. Both houses of Congress, however, must pass identical legislation before it can be sent to the president for signing into law.
Congressional passage of the Trade Promotion Authority would allow the administration to move forward with negotiations of the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Industry groups have voiced support of the TPP to increase U.S.exports.
“The House’s bipartisan passage of trade promotion authority legislation brings us a step closer to completing ambitious trade negotiations around the world,” said Bob Stallman, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. “Congressional support is critical to breaking down trade barriers and completing ambitious new trade agreement like the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”
National Chicken Council President Mike Brown said TPA will “ensure foreign access for U.S. chicken, generate more farm income, jobs in rural district and improve the U.S. trade balance. Passage of TPA sends a strong signal to the other countries’ negotiators that the U.s. Congress is serious and committed to achieving a new world standard for international trade agreements.”
While acknowledging that TPA passage by Congress has been a struggle, it is “immensely beneficial to the U.S. feed industry’s growth, and is a step in the right direction toward solidifying ongoing, as well as future, trade negotiations,” stated Joel G. Newman, president and CEO of the American Feed Industry Association.
The American Soybean Association also welcomed the House vote. ASA President Wade Cowan noted that TPA has “always been step one as we look to forge strong agreements that help to make American agriculture — and soybean farmers in particular —so competitive in international markets..”