April 22, 2015

Crapo Supports Changes To Trade Bill

Says bill holds Administration accountable, gives Congress final say in any trade agreement

Washington, D.C.-Citing the inclusion of critical new provisions to hold the Administration accountable, Idaho Senator Mike Crapo voted with the majority of Senate Finance Committee members today to approve a trade promotion authority (TPA) measure.  The bill lays the groundwork for removing trade barriers and better positions the United States to negotiate and secure fair trade agreements that would result in greater market access for millions of American farmers, ranchers and manufacturers.  U.S. exporters face higher tariffs abroad than nearly all our trade competitors and rank 130 th among 138 economies in terms of tariffs faced by its exports.

"This has been a difficult vote because the negotiating process for recent trade agreements has been too secretive with few details being made public," said Crapo.  "This has raised strong concern about whether the President would negotiate away American sovereignty, or agree to change U.S. law, in both trade and non-trade related areas, in dangerous ways.  I was expecting to vote no because I didn't have the confidence that we would be able to hold the Administration accountable in trade negotiations. 

"Fortunately, however, we have been able to negotiate changes to the trade promotion authority process that will provide significant protections against these concerns.  These changes include, but are not limited to, language protecting the sovereignty of the United States, limiting negotiating authority to trade related objectives, prohibiting negotiation of non-trade related issues, expanding Congressional involvement and oversight, requiring heightened transparency, and allowing Congress to withdraw trade promotion authority if the Administration fails to comply with these rigorous requirements.     

"If the Administration does not meet these standards, it should not be surprised if it loses the votes of many free trade supporters who have been disappointed with the process so far.  While I have supported some trade agreements, far too often, we have bad deals that I opposed such as NAFTA and CAFTA.

"I will scrutinize each trade agreement on its merits and whether it promotes trade and jobs in Idaho.  I have voted against agreements that are not in Idaho's best interest in the past and am prepared to do so again," Crapo concluded.

Summary of Key Protections Included in Trade Promotion Authority Measure: 

Protects U.S. Sovereignty & State Law:

·         Provides that ANY provision of a trade agreement inconsistent with U.S. federal or State law will have no effect.

·         Confirms that U.S. federal and State law prevail in the event of a conflict with a trade agreement.

·         Affirms that a trade agreement cannot prevent the United States or the States from changing law in the future.

·         Confirms that the Administration cannot unilaterally change U.S. law.

Directs Administration Negotiating Authority to Trade Related Objectives, such as:

·         Lowering tariff levels.

·         Eliminating non-tariff trade barriers.

·         Protection of U.S. investments.

·         Protection of intellectual property rights.

·         Eliminating kickbacks for government owned firms.

Prohibits Administration from Negotiating Non Trade Related Issues:

·         Tightens the scope to "only such provisions as are strictly necessary or appropriate to implement" trade agreements.

·         Restricts labor and environmental standards to those the United States is already a party to and already compliant with.

·         Any commitments that are not disclosed to the Congress before an implementing bill is introduced are not to be considered part of the Agreement approved by Congress and have no force of law.

·         Must be concluded within the time frame delegated by Congress and that substantial modifications or additions after that date are not eligible for approval.  

·         Requires that State and local labor laws are not subject to trade agreements.

·         Requires that a trade agreement is not construed to empower another country to pursue labor or environmental law enforcement in the United States.

·         Prohibits the inclusion of non-trade related matters in future trade agreements. 

Congressional Involvement, Oversight, and Enhanced Transparency: 

·         Establishes, for the first time in law, that the text of an agreement must be public for at least 60 days before the President signs it. 

·         Contains specific negotiating principles outlined by Congress that must be met to be successfully considered under the new procedures.

·         Establishes a Transparency Officer at USTR that will consult with Congress and advise the USTR on transparency policies.

·         USTR must promptly provide the classified negotiating texts of ALL trade negotiations to any Members of Congress. 

·         Require the Administration to publish detailed and comprehensive summaries of the specific objectives that trade negotiators are seeking in trade negotiations, and keep such summaries updated as negotiations continue.

 

Strengthens Constitutional Prerogatives of Congress:

·         Congress retains the ultimate authority to vote for - or reject - any trade agreement.

·         Creates a new power for Congress to strip TPA off any trade agreement which Congress does not accept.