Congressional action on Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”) should be a relatively straightforward task.
TPA, also known as “fast track,” simply streamlines how Congress and the president deal with trade bills, by making any agreement subject to a single vote either up or down.
Absent TPA, trade agreements would be subject to a “death by a thousand cuts” through amendments in Congress. TPA makes sure that our global partners can have confidence in the deals they negotiate with the United States; and without such confidence, other countries may not enter into new agreements with us.
For decades, the near-consensus has been that international trade is so important that free trade packages should get this kind of special treatment in Congress. In fact, the vast majority of modern Presidents — from FDR to George W. Bush — have either had TPA or similar authority at their disposal. TPA (or similar authority) has been one of the key tools used by both Democratic and Republican administrations to drive growth, competition and job creation since World War II.
That authority is critical for the U.S. to benefit from trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) which allow for Texas products to be sold in other countries as easily as foreign goods are sold domestically. For Texas companies, competing in foreign markets is serious business.
Overseas markets represent 80 percent of the world’s purchasing power, 92 percent of its economic growth and 95 percent of its consumers. Our companies can’t afford to be shut out of the global marketplace. Without trade — and free-trade deals — our companies would have few markets in which to expand, grow the economy and create jobs. That’s why I fully support passage of TPA in Congress, as well as the major pending trade deals that are dependent on TPA for passage.
Inflammatory rhetoric aside, there is little evidence to support claims that global trade is anything but a net positive to the Texas and national economies. In 2014, exports supported more than 1 million jobs in Texas, and more than 40,000 firms (an overwhelming majority of which are small- or medium-sized businesses) exported from our state in 2013. Despite our successes in international markets, however, we can and must do more. To maintain economic growth and job creation, we must expand the markets to which Texas companies can market and sell their goods and services. This can’t happen without free-trade agreements — and we can’t secure trade agreements without TPA.
With globalization transforming how and where we all do business, international trade is getting more — not less — important. With passage of TPA, the United States will have a seat at the table as the next generation of international trade guidelines are developed and implemented. Without TPA, the chances of the U.S. maintaining its dominant position in the global marketplace are slim.
Fortunately, the Senate has successfully crafted a bi-partisan TPA legislation and now the House must act. I strongly urge the entire Texas delegation to support the free trade that helps drive Texas’ economy by supporting TPA and subsequent trade deals.