Iowa legislators comment on trade votes in House

Trade -- ShippingBy The Iowa Statesman


This afternoon, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on Trade Adjustment Assistance and Trade Promotion Authority, voting in favor only for TPA. But, because both provisions were linked, the vote was a defeat for TPA, as well as President Obama’s trade agenda.

Both provisions passed the U.S. Senate earlier this year. Members of the Iowa delegation to Congress commented about the measure following the votes.

U.S. Rep. Rod Blum (R-IA 1) voted for both TAA and TPA, even though he has been an opponent of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement that is also part of the administration’s trade agenda. He explained his vote in the following statement:

“Yesterday, I joined 178 Democrats and 33 Republicans in voting “no” on H.Res. 305, a procedural measure on the rules for consideration of Trade Promotion Authority by the House of Representatives. Though the current form of TPA does include Congressional oversight over the trade agreement process, I voted no because I believed the House should have taken more time to improve the bill by giving Congress additional oversight and strengthening protections for American workers and American jobs in any free trade agreement. The resolution passed the House by a 217 to 212 vote when 8 Democrats decided to vote “yes.”

“Today, after reading the entire bill, I voted “yes” on TPA, which passed 219 – 211, for several reasons. First, TPA will force the Obama administration to finally make the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement completely public. All Americans should be able to view a trade agreement of this size and importance before it is enacted, and without TPA that would not happen. Second, TPA allows Congress to reject ANY trade agreements — including TPP — if the deal does not benefit America. Third, TPA gives Congress a seat at the table by including nearly 150 specific pro-America negotiating objectives for free trade agreements. If the Obama administration fails to achieve any of those objectives Congress can revoke TPA at any time.

“I also voted “yes” on Trade Adjustment Assistance today in conjunction with TPA. TAA, which failed 126 – 302, provides important benefits and access to retraining programs for American workers who have lost their jobs due to the impact of international trade so they can obtain the skills they need to get back in the workforce quickly. TAA is currently scheduled to be reconsidered by the House next week.”

“Overall, I know trade is highly beneficial for America and for Iowa. In fact, 1 in 5 jobs in Iowa depend on trade, and opening up new world markets for Iowa products will drive up wages for Iowa workers and increase prosperity in our communities. Ninety-five percent of the world’s consumers live outside the United States, and good free trade agreements give American businesses access to those customers so they can sell more American products and hire more American workers. Further, America has a trade surplus with countries with which we have free trade agreements, and a trade deficit with countries with whom we have no free trade agreement.”

U.S. Rep. David Young (R-IA 3) voted in favor of TPA, as did U.S. Rep. Steve King (R-IA 4). He made the following statement after his vote:

“I voted for Trade Promotion Authority to ensure accountability, transparency, and lawfulness in any trade agreement coming down the pike from the president. This authority gives Congress a say in the process, so we can review the trade deal and ultimately have an up or down vote in approving or rejecting the agreement. And most importantly, TPA requires the president to make the trade agreement public, so it is transparent and reviewable for Iowans. Regardless of any potential trade agreement, I look forward to listening to Iowans throughout this process.”

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), an outspoken advocate of both measures, as well as the TPP, issued the following statement after the House vote:

“This is a bad day for those of us who care about creating new opportunities for American workers through trade expansion.  The Democrats’ logic in killing a program they created and have ‘stood by for four decades,’ as The New York Times put it, is hard to see.  New markets are coming, whether Trade Promotion Authority comes or not.  Iowa is an exporting state, like a lot of others.  Our farmers and businesses are looking for new export markets all the time.  Trade Promotion Authority is just the process that makes it easier to enter new trade agreements and gain better access to consumers around the world.  Maintaining the status quo doesn’t help anybody.  The House Democrats say they want a better deal for America’s workers, but right now, there’s no deal.  The President needs to be more persuasive with his fellow Democrats if he wants trade expansion as one of his achievements.”