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Top US House Democrat Joins In TPA Bill Rejection

by Mike Godfrey,, Washington

18 February 2014

Following the recent negative comments by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D – Nevada) and Ron Wyden (D – Oregon), the new Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, another senior member of United States President Barack Obama's party, the House of Representatives Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D – California), has also spoken out against the current bill before Congress for Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) renewal.

At a press conference on the first day of a Democratic Issues Conference, Pelosi said that the current form of the TPA bill, which was co-introduced last month by the former Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D – Montana) and the House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R – Michigan), was, to her, "unacceptable."

"I have worked with many of our colleagues to try to find some common ground, but in its present form, it is unacceptable," she added. "That is not a rejection of the President's trade agenda. It's a rejection of the current form of the Camp-Baucus (bill)."

Her comments were, however, taken as a further blow to the President's present trade priorities, including completion of two major treaties, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the European Union, particularly to their timing and content.

In the US, Congress has the authority to regulate international trade, but the President has the authority to negotiate trade agreements with foreign governments. With the objective that US trading partners can be assured that concluded trade agreements would be fast-tracked through Congress, a TPA would prohibit amendments to implementing bills for trade treaties and impose a timetable for their consideration.

However, the TPA also requires the Administration to consult extensively with Congress during trade negotiations, and opponents to TPA extension at this moment have pointed to a perceived lack of transparency and information surrounding the current negotiations for both the TPP and the TTIP.

Those opponents point out that the trade agreements being considered address a broad range of policy areas apart from market access for goods and services – for example, competition from state-owned enterprises, barriers to trade, restrictions on cross-border data flows, enforceable rules against barriers to US agriculture, and currency manipulation – and that Congress must therefore play a greater role in the development and oversight of those agreements.

TAGS: tax | tariffs | trade treaty | agreements | United States | currency | trade | Europe

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