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Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. BAUCUS. Mr. President, 52 years ago, in 1962, President John Kennedy signed the Trade Expansion Act into law. At the signing he spoke about the importance of trade to the United States and its partners abroad, on how it helps secure our preeminence in a global economy.

Here is what he said:

We now have the means to make certain that we build our strength together and that we can maintain this preeminence.

His words still ring true today. International trade is a cornerstone of our economy.

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Mr. BAUCUS. I hope everyone listened to my good friend's words. He made very important points about statistics that I think most Americans are unaware of, and if they would think about it more, they would realize the importance of trade.

We export so much more now. Exporting is such a large percent of our economy and offers such good-paying jobs that, frankly, I am perplexed more Americans don't want to work harder to get trade agreements passed so we can export more and get more good-paying jobs in America.

I must say that today we have a bold plan to strengthen our trade ties with nations across the Pacific and in Europe.

What is our goal? Our goal is to seize new export opportunities so that we can boost our economy and create jobs here at home. We all know the big to-and-fro here with unemployment insurance. The key is to have fewer people unemployed. How does that happen? More good-paying jobs.

But there is a big first step we need to take before we can act on our trade agenda. What is that? It is Trade Promotion Authority, otherwise known as TPA.

That is why this afternoon Senator Hatch and I introduced the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014.

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Mr. BAUCUS. That is right. Our bill also addresses critical issues such as labor, environment, and innovation and for the first time currency manipulation. Our bill addresses it.

Senator Hatch and I worked with our good friend from the other body, the Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, to carefully craft these negotiating objectives and ensure that Congress is a full partner in trade negotiations.

Our bill helps lay out in clear terms what Congress's priorities are for trade. It is our opportunity to tell the administration and our partners overseas what we must see in an agreement if it is going to be approved by Congress.

It boosts congressional oversight, increases transparency in trade negotiations, and it gives every Member of Congress the right to a strong voice in the process.

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Mr. BAUCUS. Madam President, I thank very much my good friend from Utah. As President Kennedy said 52 years ago, this is about working with our trade partners to build strength together. It is about maintaining U.S. preeminence. That is why TPA is so important--because it makes our job-creating trade agenda work, and it helps to secure our future.

I yield the floor.

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Mr. BAUCUS. Mr. President, first of all, I wish to ask my good friend from Ohio if he could expand on what I think is a very important point, and it is namely this: With the world becoming more competitive and with globalization, it is evermore important for the United States of America to strive ahead and to keep working to develop good products, good high-technology products, and to compete in the world. I believe, frankly, when we are treading water, we are sinking. We have to keep moving ahead if we are going to make products and boost incomes and help the American people.

That leads me to another point. If the Senator could tell us a little more and explain to, frankly, some people who may not realize this, what is involved in TPP. What is TPP? Of course, we need trade promotion authority in order to get TPP.

Isn't it important, isn't it critical, isn't it crucial that the United States include a strong Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement not only for economic reasons but also for geopolitical reasons to show to the world, to show to Asian countries that are wondering where the United States is--is the United States going to show up? Is the United States going to maintain its presence in Asia? What will happen if we don't pass trade promotion authority? How will that affect the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, and what effect will that have on other countries in Asia and their perception of the United States?

My understanding is--and we know this better than anybody--that unfortunately President Obama was unable to travel to Southeast Asia to attend the ASEAN conference, and many people around the world are wondering whether the United States is going to show up anymore in Asia.

If the Senator could address how important is it that we engage countries in the Pacific as we negotiate a Trans-Pacific Partnership, including the economic reasons, but also if he could address the geopolitical issue, the degree to which it is important for the United States to negotiate a successful agreement and to be there, to show up.

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Mr. BAUCUS. Mr. President, if I might ask one more question very briefly, and that is this. One more opportunity here with trade promotion authority--with trade promotion authority, clearly we are going to get a Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement, and without trade promotion authority, we won't. Other countries will go their ways in the Pacific and wonder, where is the United States?

There is another issue in addition to that. I wonder whether my good friend would agree with this. Not only does trade promotion authority enable our country to negotiate trade agreements with the Pacific--TPP--but isn't it also true that it allows the United States, with the passage of the TPA, to negotiate with European countries? And doesn't that mean that between Asia TPP and TTIP with the European countries, that it is about 70 percent of world trade and is an opportunity for the United States to lead in the harmonization of trade provisions and regulatory provisions not only in Asia and in the Pacific but also in Europe? It is an opportunity to lead? And if we don't pass TPA, is the United States squandering a huge opportunity to lead here in a way that would raise productivity and raise incomes not just in our country but in other countries of the world?

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