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house Bill H.R. 1890

Should Congress Approve the ‘Fast-Track’ for Free Trade Agreements (Like TPP)?

Argument in favor

There is bipartisan agreement that this bill will open markets for U.S. exports, give the U.S. more access to imports, and save average consumers money. Congress would still have a chance to weigh in, and ultimately approve or deny any trade agreements.

BarackObama's Opinion
···
05/04/2015
"If I didn’t think this was the right thing to do for working families, I wouldn’t be fighting for it.” [twitter.com/POTUS]
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Hameltor's Opinion
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05/04/2015
Promoting trade decreases nationalism and promotes peace. Trade makes everyone better off economically and socially
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Cary's Opinion
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05/06/2015
Juice the economy with free trade agreements.
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Argument opposed

This bill doesn't protect American workers who could lose their jobs because of the increased competition from "fast-tracked" trade agreements. It also gives too much negotiating power to the President and corporations — not the American people.

BernieSanders's Opinion
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05/19/2015
"Trade agreements should not just work for corporate America. They have got to benefit the working families of our country. We need to fundamentally rewrite our trade agreements so that our largest export does not become decent-paying American jobs."
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Jason's Opinion
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05/05/2015
I've yet to hear a compelling reason why a trade agreement like this should be hidden from the public for their own good.
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Dylan's Opinion
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05/04/2015
The TPP was written by corporate lawyers, not by people looking out for people, but lawyers looking out for profit.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Committee on the Budget
      Trade
      Committee on Rules
      Committee on Ways and Means
    IntroducedApril 17th, 2015

What is House Bill H.R. 1890?

The measure would let the President to submit free trade agreements to Congress for straight approvals or rejections. Congress would be able to up or down vote an agreement, but they could not add in their own amendments. This bill has been making waves in Congress because it's considered the missing piece to a U.S. entry into the 12-country trade deal, aka, the Trans-Pacific Partnership pact.

Tying Congress' hands on amendments and other legislative hurdles is why this bill is frequently referred to as a ‘fast-track’ for trade agreements. If passed, the fast-track would be available until July 1, 2018, and could be extended another three years at the President’s request.


Under this bill, all the trade agreements that the U.S. tries to get in on would have to meet these overall trade objectives:

  • To gain more open, equitable, and reciprocal market access.

  • Lowering or eliminating barriers directly related to trade and investment that have decreased opportunities for U.S. exports in the past.

  • Strengthening international trade and investment disciplines, and mediating disputes.

  • Growing the economy, raising living standards, promoting full employment in the U.S., enhancing U.S. competitiveness in terms of the economy (nationally and globally). 

  • Ensuring that trade and environmental policies are mutually supportive — to protect and preserve the environment while optimizing the use of the world’s resources.

  • Respecting worker rights and the rights of children consistent with core labor standards — basically working in agreements that want to eliminate exploitative child labor.

  • Maintaining the domestic environmental and labor standards of agreement partners.

  • Ensuring that small businesses get equal access to international markets, equitable trade benefits, and expanded export market opportunities.

  • Improving the effectiveness of legal regimes, creating more democratic societies, and bolstering respect for internationally recognized human rights.


For those with transparency concerns — critics who call these fast-track deals "secret backdoor meetings for corporate power" — this bill requires that the legislative text of the trade agreement be made public 60 days before the President could sign off on the deal. This legislation would also include a mechanism for taking away the ‘fast-track’ authorities if an agreement doesn’t meet the requirements of this bill in the judgement of either chamber of  Congress.

Impact

Anyone in the U.S. who buys things, American businesses of all sizes, their employees, Congress, the U.S. and global economy, and the President.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 1890

$500.00 Thousand
The CBO analyzed this legislation and found that its implementation would cost less than $500,000 over the 2015-2025 period.

More Information

In-Depth:

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) introduced this bill in the House with bipartisan support. A Senate version was also introduced on a bipartisan basis by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR). All three hailed the potential for job creation and economic growth that fast-tracked free trade agreements would facilitate. They also gushed over the improved oversight features.


President Obama has also expressed his support for the bipartisan proposal, vowing to only sign an agreement that helps improve the economic circumstances of ordinary Americans. In the President’s press release, the White House notes that exports currently support 11 million jobs in the U.S., and that 95 percent of global consumers live outside our borders. 


The President has pushed back against critics of the trade bill, saying: 

“I would not be doing this trade deal if I did not think it was a good deal for the middle class. And when you hear folks making a lot of suggestions about about how bad this trade deal is, when you dig into this bill they are wrong.”


Detractors of this bill have expressed concerns about a lack of safeguards against currency manipulation that can hurt U.S. workers. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) attached an amendment addressing the currency concerns which passed the Senate Finance Committee, as the fast-track bill itself passed on a 20-6 vote. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has criticized the secrecy of negotiations, alleging that she has been told: 

“‘We can’t make this deal public because if the American people saw what was in it, they would be opposed to it.’ If the American people would be opposed to a trade agreement if they saw it, then that agreement should not become the law of the U.S.”

Other Democrats like Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI) have proposed alternatives that are favored by unions, but Levin’s amendment did not receive a vote in the House Ways and Means Committee while the original bill passed on a 25-13 vote.


Other provisions of the bill include: 
An outline for specific industry-related trade objectives for goods, services, agriculture, foreign investment, intellectual property, and digital trade. Goals would also be outlines for reducing regulatory barriers to trade and respecting the environment and workers’ rights, while avoiding currency manipulation.

Congress would be able to appoint a designated congressional adviser for trade policy and negotiations. That adviser would consult with the U.S. Trade Representative negotiating an agreement throughout the process before signing off on an agreement. Congressional advisory groups would also be created (in both chambers) to advise the U.S. Trade Representative on negotiating strategies and positions for trade agreements.


Of Note:

There are two major trade agreements that could be approved under this authority — the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Countries that are involved in TPP negotiations include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the U.S., and Vietnam. The economies of these potential partners combine to account for 40 percent of global GDP or $27.5 trillion, 60 percent of which is attributed to the U.S.


The TTIP would be a trade agreement between the U.S. and the European Union (EU), and the combined GDP of the two economies amounts to about half of the world’s GDP. The U.S. and EU had 2014 GDPs of $17.4 trillion and $18.4 trillion, respectively, according to the International Monetary Fund.


According to estimates cited by The Economist, approving both the TTP and TTIP could boost U.S. GDP by $200 billion per year while global GDP would grow by an additional $400 billion.


Media:

Sponsoring Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) Press Release

House Ways and Means Committee Press Release

White House Policy Statement (In Favor)

CBO Cost Estimate

Politico

The Oregonian

Reuters

Wall Street Journal

Washington Post

Business Wire (In Favor)

Electronic Frontier Foundation (Opposed)


Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: Flickr user BioDivLibrary)

AKA

Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015

Official Title

To establish congressional trade negotiating objectives and enhanced consultation requirements for trade negotiations, to provide for consideration of trade agreements, and for other purposes.

    "If I didn’t think this was the right thing to do for working families, I wouldn’t be fighting for it.” [twitter.com/POTUS]
    Like (29)
    Follow
    Share
    "Trade agreements should not just work for corporate America. They have got to benefit the working families of our country. We need to fundamentally rewrite our trade agreements so that our largest export does not become decent-paying American jobs."
    Like (118)
    Follow
    Share
    I've yet to hear a compelling reason why a trade agreement like this should be hidden from the public for their own good.
    Like (43)
    Follow
    Share
    The TPP was written by corporate lawyers, not by people looking out for people, but lawyers looking out for profit.
    Like (34)
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    This harms the American worker, and gives corporations far too much power.
    Like (22)
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    "The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a big, secret trade deal that, if fast-tracked, could drive down American wages, cost America jobs, and undermine America's manufacturing base. With Fast Track, all Congress can do is vote yes or no on TPP. It’s all or nothing: no matter how bad the deal turns out to be." [martinomalley.com]
    Like (14)
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    Trade agreements can impose and have imposed ipso facto law on all Americans. The president alone should not be able to shape them.
    Like (12)
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    We have to control how we do business with the world in an open and transparent manner.
    Like (10)
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    Promoting trade decreases nationalism and promotes peace. Trade makes everyone better off economically and socially
    Like (10)
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    To paraphrase President Obama in 2003, I'm not against all trade, I'm against stupid trade. And trade that doesn't keep a level playing field for our workers is stupid trade.
    Like (9)
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    We really don't know much about the agreement. So why fast track it? Sounds like they want to sneak it past the American people so that the Big Corporations can have their way. Besides, why would we, the American people, want to give foreign corporations the ability to SUE OUR COUNTRY if our laws don't please them? We might as well hand over the country to the Big Corporations right now. NOT~!!!!!
    Like (8)
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    Juice the economy with free trade agreements.
    Like (7)
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    Export what? We don't make anything anymore. We cannot afford more "free trade", it costs too many American jobs and results in lower wages.
    Like (6)
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    Trade agreements make goods and services cheaper, but the cost to American jobs is too high! If this was a good deal, then there would be no need to Fast Track it through. Makes it look like you're not being transparent.
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    "I have no problem supporting TPP" -@JebBush
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    There will always be unforeseen situations such as cropped up with NAFTA and worse when dealing with CHINA, however, these sound like realistic goals to start with. America needs to get back on her feet. America is a country big in name but small in population and with our having built or rebuilt the rest of the world we are finding it difficult to catch up to our own world creation. We can not afford to fall further behind and I pray ALL political parties can see that and work towards the strengthening of AMERICA once again.
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    Allowing the government to hide Massive trade agreements written by cooperate lawyers. There is no reason that these bills can't be shown to the American people
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    I believe that a free trade agreement trumps the unions concerns about losing jobs. The unions need to spend more of their dues $ on retraining their members for new job skills.
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    Trade agreements must be vetted through congress and made fully public to the people of the United States. "Fast Tracking" benefits companies at the expense of the understanding and inclusion of the citizenry.
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    The US is lagging behind economically, there's not doubt about that. Giving corporations the incentive they need to export more production out of the U.S. is not the answer. Instead let's lower taxes so that production of products can be brought back to the U.S. Making our own goods is the backbone of any economy.
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