This vote was to advance the procedural provision known as Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). TPA grants a special fast-track status to trade deals negotiated by the president and as such has been dubbed Obamatrade. While conservatives generally support trade agreements as important tools for lowering tariffs and trade barriers, and TPA is often needed in order to effectively negotiate with other countries, this particular TPA was problematic for a number of reasons.
Typically, a TPA is passed at the beginning of negotiation cycles so that Congress directs the president to negotiate along specific parameters. In this case, the three primary treaties that would receive fast-track status under this TPA have already been negotiated in secret for years. There is no reason to pass fast track authority without releasing more details about these trade agreements to the public.
Moreover, given this president’s penchant for implementing major policies without Congress, there was a widespread fear that Obama would use these trade agreements to pursue liberal policies, such as changes to our immigration system, labor laws, and global warming regulations.
For example, according to WikiLeaks, one of the impending trade deals – the Trade in Service Agreement (TISA) – contains an entire immigration section, including a provision prohibiting US authorities from conducting in-person interviews for certain visa categories. Additionally, the main trade deal – the Trans Pacific Partnership – contains a “living agreement” provision, which could enable Obama to expand the scope of the agreement during the final months of his presidency or add countries like China to the agreement.
Finally, GOP leadership negotiated a deal to advance Trade Promotion Authority and, in exchange for Democrat votes, promised to renew the crony capitalist Export-Import Bank and a failed government handout program known as Trade Adjustment Assistance, a subsidy bailout for labor unions.
Conservative position: NO