Levin Statement on Today’s Introduction of Trade Promotion Authority Legislation
Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI) today released the following statement regarding the introduction of TPA legislation by Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus and Senate Finance Ranking Member Orrin Hatch:
Since Congress passed Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) over a decade ago, globalization has intensified dramatically, its impact on American businesses and workers has been profound, and major new issues have proliferated.
The 2002 TPA became utilized mostly in negotiating single nation trade agreements affecting a relatively small portion of our economy. What the U.S is now engaged in is negotiating major multi-party agreements, including with 11 Pacific nations and with the entire European Union, affecting a huge percentage of the U.S. and the global economy. The 2002 TPA did not ensure an intensive role for Congress at the outset, during, and as negotiations were being completed, leaving the role of Congress mostly to say “yes or no” at the end. Congress played a major role only when an Administration had already failed to address key issues like labor, the environment, medicines, and non-tariff barriers so that some of us in Congress had to negotiate directly with other nations.
The USTR must be the negotiators on trade agreements; the Congress must be an active, effective partner with major input at all stages. The 2002 model must be clearly replaced with a different model; a more robust structure that meets today’s challenges.
The effort by Sen. Baucus, Rep. Camp and Sen. Hatch has fallen far short of adequately replacing the failed 2002 TPA model. I do not support their proposal and am working with colleagues to develop legislation that fully meets today’s needs in a rapidly globalizing economy.
Moreover, legislation needs to address currency manipulation not only through a ‘negotiating objective’, but also through legislation that provides direct relief to U.S. industries materially injured by imports. In 2010, the House passed a currency bill by a vote of 348 to 79, with a strong majority of both parties. The following year, the Senate passed a bill that included these same provisions, by a vote of 63 to 35, but the House did not act. Now is the time to pass that legislation into law.
Any TPA must have the following characteristics:
Priority Change #1: Meaningful Role of Congress
Because trade agreements today address a broad range of policy areas, more Members of Congress must play a role – and Congress as a whole must play a greater role – in the development and oversight of those agreements.
The House and Senate should each establish a bipartisan group of Members that would serve as a nucleus to be effectively involved on an ongoing basis. These House and Senate Trade Advisors would be comprised of Members who serve on the Committees of Jurisdiction (i.e., Ways and Means or Finance) and Members chosen by House or Senate leadership.
Congress should have a role in determining the trading partners we negotiate with and should not simply grant the President ‘fast track’ authority to negotiate a trade agreement with any foreign country that the President chooses. The House and Senate Trade Advisors, described above, should determine whether a particular agreement proposed by the President should be subject to a fast track process before the negotiations begin.
We also should seek the views of other Committees within the Congress as to how the negotiations affect matters within their jurisdiction.
A new TPA must also ensure meaningful consultations with Congress during negotiations. There must be mechanisms like the one that was an important part of the “fast track” law enacted by Congress in the 1980s that would remove fast track rules if the Senate Finance Committee or the Ways and Means Committee disapproves of the agreement during the negotiations. Trade negotiating authority legislation should return to that provision and include a sizeable Minority disapproval resolution to bring the matter before the entire Congress.
Finally, at the conclusion of negotiations, Congress must have a stronger role in determining whether the negotiating objectives have been met. The bipartisan House and Senate Trade Advisors should determine whether they believe the negotiating objectives have been satisfied.
Priority Change #2: Transparency
USTR must make available to all Members of Congress and all staff with the necessary security clearance the text of the negotiations, including the proposals of our trading partners. We must also have a much more effective stakeholder advisory committee process than we do today so that the sectoral and functional advisory committees are representative of all industry, labor, agricultural, or services interests (including small business interests) in the sector or functional areas concerned. These private sector advisory committees must have access to the negotiating text. Finally, a new TPA will require USTR to publicly release summaries of its negotiating proposals and to provide opportunities for public comment.
Priority Change #3: Negotiating Objectives that Ensure Reciprocity and Reflect American Values
The negotiating objectives must include the labor, environmental, and access to medicine provisions from the ‘May 10 Agreement’ of 2007. And we must do more to ensure that our trading partners do not gain competitive advantages through weak labor and environmental laws and enforcement – a challenge that Vietnam’s inclusion in TPP makes clear.
On currency manipulation, bipartisan majorities in both the House and the Senate have urged the President to include strong and enforceable disciplines on currency manipulation in trade agreements. Rather than laying out options that the President already has to address currency manipulation, Congress needs to provide direction on this issue, consistent with its Constitutional mandate on trade.
We also should instruct our trade negotiators to directly address large and persistent trade imbalances; limit the liability of Internet intermediaries in a manner consistent with U.S. law and preserve and advance the multi-stakeholder model that governs the Internet; and ensure that trade and investment obligations do not undermine the ability of governments to protect legitimate public welfare objectives, such as the environment and public health and safety.
Priority Change #4: Strengthening U.S. Competitiveness and Enforcement
We should not enact trade negotiating authority legislation without also passing legislation that strengthens the enforcement of existing trade agreements and laws and develops a broad competitiveness strategy so that U.S. workers and businesses have the tools to compete in the global marketplace.
In addition to legislation to address currency manipulation, we need to strengthen the enforcement of U.S. trade remedy laws by Customs. We also need to consider legislation to establish a Congressional Trade Enforcement Office to monitor and help develop trade cases against foreign countries, along with other trade enforcement legislation. And we should consider measures to encourage production and create jobs in the United States, and measures to help small businesses export overseas. These and other competitiveness and enforcement provisions must be part of any meaningful trade bill.
Trade Adjustment Assistance
We also need to act immediately to reauthorize Trade Adjustment Assistance. Many key TAA provisions expired last month. As a result, service workers as a class are no longer eligible for TAA; workers who lose their jobs to non-FTA partners (e.g., China) are no longer eligible for benefits; and training funding is being cut by more than 50%. In addition, the Health Care Tax Credit expired last month. Although in many cases the Affordable Care Act will make current HCTC beneficiaries whole (and in some cases better off), there are HCTC beneficiaries who will not be made whole by the ACA. These include some Pension Benefit Guaranty beneficiaries, as well as very poor people living in states that have rejected additional funding available pursuant to the ACA (i.e., Medicaid expansion). Finally, TAA as a whole expires at the end of 2014. TAA legislation stands on its own merits. Congress should reauthorize it program without further delay.