Wednesday the Senate voted 60-38 in favor of the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill which grants the President certain negotiating powers and Congress to give an up or down vote on any final negotiated trade agreement brought before Congress.
The Senate previously passed TPA along with Trade Adjustment Assistance by a vote of 62-37 ahead of the Memorial Day recess. However, when the combined package was sent to the House, House Democrats voted against TAA in hopes of derailing TPA. However, a secondary vote on TPA by itself prevailed in the House by a vote of 218-208.
TPA now goes to the President for his signature, while TAA is expected to pass the House on Thursday. A customs and enforcement bill is expected to be finalized in early July.
Senate Finance Committee chairman Orrin Hatch (R., Utah) – which has jurisdiction over the trade bill – said Washington has not acted on trade policy of this magnitude in nearly 15 years. “With Trade Promotion Authority back in our trade arsenal, we can continue as the premier leader on global trade and open more international markets for American farmers, ranchers, and businesses,” Hatch said.
Agricultural groups praised the passage, many recognizing it as an important step in helping finalizing critical free trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
North American Meat Institute President and chief executive officer Barry Carpenter said Senate approval of TPA is “a major step forward that sends a message to the world that the U.S. is serious about trade.”
Cattlemen and women have seen tremendous value in trade, exporting over $7.1 billion worth of U.S. beef in 2014, which alone accounts for over $350 in added value per head of cattle in the United States. National Cattlemen’s Beef Assn. president Philip Ellis said, “This value is not just from increased demand, but also from adding value to variety meats that have very limited value here at home. As the demand for U.S. beef continues to grow around the world, the future success of the beef industry rests in our ability to meet foreign demand without inference of tariff and non-tariff trade barriers.”
Ron Gray, an Illinois farmer and chairman of the U.S. Grains Council, the corn industry’s overseas market development organization, added, “Trade policy that works for agriculture sets the rules of the road for our efforts around the globe. We are excited to work with negotiators to conclude these agreements [TPP and another with the European Union] and with buyers to increase their use of our products.”
Joel Newman, president and chief executive officer of the American Feed Industry Assn., added, TPA will provide the U.S. animal food industry access to growing world markets. “AFIA thanks Congress for recognizing the importance of TPA in order to continue growth in the animal food and agricultural industries. This growth will help ensure and create U.S. jobs, along with economically stronger rural communities,” he said.