Scalise reiterates support of Trade Priorities and Accountability Act

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) joined other pro-trade legislators, and conservative and free market organizers last week in reiterating support for the Trade Priorities and Accountability (TPA) Act, which faces a Congressional vote early this week.
“We live in a global, competitive marketplace but American trade is critical to giving our workers a competitive advantage so that they can make products here in America and sell them in other countries without all of the limitations that are placed upon us,” Scalise said. “You don’t hear a whole lot of problems that companies in foreign nations have getting access to American markets. It’s relatively easy for people to sell products in our country. What’s really difficult is for companies that are here in America, making products that are built by American workers, being able to sell those products to countries where we don’t have trade agreements.”

During a press conference at the Capitol, Scalise highlighted trade issues in Asia.

 “We have a lot of limitations that are placed upon us that make it very difficult for us to sell American products in many Asian countries,” he said. “We are trying to get an agreement with (these countries) so we can open those markets up. This is something that gives Congress the authority to write the rules so that we can constrain the president, so that he can’t go and put things in a trade agreement that we disagree with.”

If approved, the TPA bill would create more transparency around international trade agreements. 

“In the TPA bill, there are 150 different items that we lay out, that are the rules of the road that the president has to follow when he is negotiating,” Scalise explained. “(The bill also states) that any final trade agreement that’s reached, whether it’s an Asian nation, European nations or any other group of nations, any trade agreement that’s finalized has to be made available online for 60 days for the entire country to be able to read. That’s something, a level of transparency that doesn’t exist today, that we actually establish in this TPA legislation.”

TPA also effectively would give Congress final approval for all international trade deals.

“And then we put an extra protection in place to make sure that the president has to follow the guidelines that Congress establishes,” Scales said. “In essence, a veto authority that Congress has over any deal the president cuts.”

Scalise concluded by applying the proposed TPA requirements to the pending trade deal President Obama is negotiating with Iran – currently without any approval from Congress.

“Imagine, if as the president is negotiating with Iran and so many of us have real serious concerns over that Iranian deal,” he explained. “Yet you cannot go and see the Iranian deal. Imagine if it had to be online available for 60 days after it was finished. And it couldn’t take effect unless Congress passed it. Anybody that’s following that Iranian deal would take that TPA-style oversight in a minute. And that’s in fact what we do in TPA. Those kinds of protections are in place in TPA for any trade deal that’s negotiated.”