Leaders remain optimistic about Trade Promotion Authority (TPA)

Chairman Pat Tiberi (OH-12), Adrian Smith (NE-3), George Holding (NC-13) and Erik Paulsen (MN-3) recently met to discuss the Ways and Means Trade Committee’s role in approving and passing the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) for 2015.

The House last approved TPA in 2002. Tiberi is concerned that there are only a few members left on the committee who supported the original 2002 vote.

“There are only four of us on the Ways and Means Committee and 28 in the House Republican Conference that were here for the last TPA vote,” Tiberi said. “We won by one vote, and I still remember a former colleague of ours crying on the House floor because he voted for TPA and because I think he knew he wasn’t going to come back. And ultimately, he didn’t come back. But, he voted for it because he thought it was the right thing to do.”

The TPA remains a controversial topic among Americans because of general misunderstandings about TPA and the authority that it gives to the president.

“I was talking to a colleague on the floor last night about TPA, and I got a classic response,” Tiberi said. “‘I want to vote for it, but I’m really concerned giving the president all of this additional authority that he doesn’t have today. My tea party groups are going crazy about giving this president extra authority.’ I looked at him and said: ‘Okay, did you know that the president has the ability to negotiate any trade agreement today with whomever he wants?’ ‘Oh, he does?’ I said, ‘Yes, he absolutely does!’ ‘I didn’t know that. I thought we were giving him some special authority.’ No, we’re not giving him any special authority, we’re giving him direction. We’re actually giving him our input, and our guidance. We’re spelling it out.”

Tiberi and his colleagues are, and play to stay, optimistic about the U.S., its economy and its future.

“I believe Americans can compete as long as the rules are fair, and that’s a huge issue,” Tiberi said. “I believe Americans can compete anywhere with anyone. We can’t put our heads in the sand, and that’s what this debate is all about. The president has begun to show leadership, but he has to show more.”