At a Senate Finance Committee hearing today Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) emphasized the importance of renewing trade promotion authority (TPA) to help the Administration conclude trade agreements that would bring down trade barriers, open international markets for American manufacturers and create good-paying jobs in the U.S.
"The trade deals we're negotiating will provide new opportunities for U.S. exports in many countries, and that means more jobs in the U.S.," Senator Baucus said. "We must recognize the opportunities created by international trade -- and we must act. Stronger labor rights, environmental protections, currency rules, and disciplines for state owned enterprises -- all of these issues and more will be left out of trade deals if we don't push for them. If we don't stay in the game, we'll be left on the sidelines."
Last week, Senator Baucus and Ranking Member Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), along with House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) introduced legislation that would establish strong rules for trade negotiations and Congressional approval of trade pacts.
Ongoing trade negotiations such as the Trans Pacific Partnership represent an opportunity to boost American exports and add good-paying, secure jobs to the economy. Last year, exports supported nearly ten million American jobs, including 25 percent of all manufacturing jobs.
"This is our opportunity to ensure Congress is a full partner in trade negotiations," Senator Baucus said. "We need to help get these job-creating trade deals across the finish line by renewing TPA. This strengthened bill helps guarantee that America's workers and companies can compete on a fair and level playing field."
The bill, called the Bipartisan Trade Priorities Act of 2014, would also give every member of Congress a strong voice in the negotiation process. Specifically, the bill would give all members of Congress access to more information and give them the ability to serve as an advisor at negotiating sessions. It will also boost transparency and participation for the public.
In addition to pushing for TPA, Senator Baucus discussed the importance of Trade Adjustment Assistance, the job-training program designed to equip the American workforce to capitalize on new export opportunities.
"We need a TPA that empowers Congress to play a larger role in negotiations from the beginning," Senator Baucus said. "We have an obligation -- not just an opportunity, but an obligation -- to show the world leadership on trade. TPA will prepare us for a trade agenda that has untold potential for our economy, our exports, and job growth across the country. We have to renew trade promotion authority now, as well as Trade Adjustment Assistance. TPA and TAA have always gone together, and it will be no different in this case."