Yesterday evening, Congressman Mike Kelly published an opinion piece for TIME.com that urged support for Trade Promotion Authority and detailed how this piece of legislation empowers Congress to supervise the Obama Administration and that of future presidents in securing the strongest possible pro-growth trade agreements.
The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 has been approved by the Senate and is now on its way to the House floor. If passed, it will establish a key policy partnership between the executive and legislative branches, which is known as Trade Promotion Authority. This has been given the nickname “fast track,” as it allows for easier congressional consideration of possible and worthy trade deals.
TPA is designed to give Congress an unprecedented and prolonged oversight in crafting trade agreements the president may seek to negotiate.
This program also empowers the public, as the text of an agreement must be made public for 60 days before it can be signed by the President. The legislation to implement the agreement must be made public for an additional 30 days before Congress can consider it.
“In other words, TPA makes it virtually impossible for Obama or any future president to keep the American people or their elected representatives in the dark,” explained Kelly.
Overall, TPA includes almost 150 objectives that an administration must carry out while negotiating. These objectives include protections for cross-border data flows, currency manipulation restrictions, and rules for intellectual property rights.
“It is a critical watchdog mechanism for guaranteeing strong, job-creating agreements like TPP that will benefit American workers and ensure that our country is both shaping and dominating the global economy,” wrote Kelly.
Kelly notes that this has been met with resistance by both the Democratic and Republican parties. While most Democrats dislike TPA for ideological reasons, the Republican “resistance stems mainly from a reluctance to grant President Barack Obama anything resembling more authority, along with the mythical notion that TPA would do such a thing.”
He continues, “Yet an analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service has fully confirmed that ‘TPA grants no new authority to the President.”
“If anything, distrust toward President Obama should make TPA more desirable, not less,” explained Kelly.