Both President Obama and Republican leadership are pressing trade promotion authority, also known as TPA, or “fast-track.” Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) both oppose it.
As a general matter, I agree (as did Ronald Reagan) that free trade is good for America; when we open up foreign markets, it helps American farmers, ranchers, and manufacturers.
But TPA in this Congress has become enmeshed in corrupt Washington backroom deal-making, along with serious concerns that it would open up the potential for sweeping changes in our laws that trade agreements typically do not include.
Since the Senate first voted on TPA, there have been two material changes.
First, WikiLeaks subsequently revealed new troubling information regarding the Trade in Services Agreement, or TiSA, one of the trade deals being negotiated by Obama.
Despite the administration’s public assurances that it was not negotiating on immigration, several chapters of the TiSA draft posted online explicitly contained potential changes in federal immigration law. TPA would cover TiSA, and therefore these changes would presumably be subject to fast-track.
When TPA last came up for a vote, both Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) and I introduced amendments that would have barred fast-track treatment for any trade agreement that attempted to impact immigration law. Two other Republican senators objected, and we were both denied votes on our amendments. Instead, the House inserted substantially weaker language in related legislation.