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house Bill H.R. 2146

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.

ThomasParker's Opinion
···
06/19/2015
As long as the bill is not private and it is a move towards free trade, we should support it. However, if a bill is kept in secret and imposes tariffs or confers privileges to certain industries, it must be opposed.
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James's Opinion
···
06/19/2015
We live in a global economy. It's very likely without this you will have the U.S. Limited in its ability to engage in the already global and changing economy and the implications for our global trading partners could be disastrous
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SherryTX's Opinion
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05/13/2015
These careers are more demanding than most and often times they are no longer physically able to continue work. I would much rather see an early retirement than a disability claim. This option should be available for all careers that are age selective in the ability to do the work.
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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.

Dirtrhino's Opinion
···
05/13/2015
So we can bail them out when they're broke in retirement? I don't think so. These folks have inherently dangerous jobs and could be permanently disabled at anytime. They may need the money in their retirement savings, and this bill would allow them to run that down
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Berthold's Opinion
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06/19/2015
Too secret, a power grab , a typical example of how the population gets manipulated into ignorance and complacency. A giveaway to China and other Asian nations and and basically a contract to further diminish control on big corporat players.
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ChrisGarguilo's Opinion
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06/19/2015
This is a blatant attempt at even more corporate takeover of our government. This bill does not benefit Americans, only corporations.
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bill Progress


  • EnactedJune 29th, 2015
    The President signed this bill into law
  • The senate Passed June 4th, 2015
    Passed by Voice Vote
      senate Committees
      Committee on Finance
  • The house Passed June 18th, 2015
    Roll Call Vote 218 Yea / 208 Nay
      house Committees
      Committee on Ways and Means
    IntroducedApril 30th, 2015

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What is House Bill H.R. 2146?

Update June, 2015: This bill was originally the "Defending Public Safety Employees' Retirement Act," which allowed federal law enforcement officers, firefighters, and air traffic controllers to make penalty-free withdrawals from their government retirement plans after they turn 50. It had passed the House on a vote of 407 to 5, and was approved by the Senate through unanimous consent. Through the amendment process, the House turned the original bill into a "legislative vehicle" for the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act (TPA) — previously a standalone bill in both the House and Senate. Seem shady? It happens more often than you might think

In its current form, this bill would let the President submit free trade agreements to Congress for approval or rejection. Congress would be able to cast an up or down vote on an agreement, but they couldn't amend the terms of the deal. 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, known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership pact (TPP).

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.

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 some overall trade objectives including:

  • Gaining more open, equitable, and reciprocal market access.

  • 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.

  • 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.

Impact

Anyone in the U.S. who buys things, American businesses of all sizes and their employees, workers who lose their job as a result of international trade agreements, Congress, , the Department of Labor, the U.S. and global economy, and the President.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 2146

$0.00
The CBO estimated that enacting the TPA — as H.R. 1890 — would not affect direct spending or revenues, as this would legislation would only facilitate the negotiation of trade agreements. Subsequently approved trade agreements could, however, lead to policies affecting spending and revenues.

More Information

In-Depth: President Obama has expressed his support for a fast-track trade authority, 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. 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.”

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:

Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user Eddy_Tw)

AKA

Defending Public Safety Employees' Retirement Act

Popular Title

Trade Promotion Authority bill

Official Title

To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow Federal law enforcement officers, firefighters, and air traffic controllers to make penalty-free withdrawals from governmental plans after age 50, and for other purposes.

    As long as the bill is not private and it is a move towards free trade, we should support it. However, if a bill is kept in secret and imposes tariffs or confers privileges to certain industries, it must be opposed.
    Like (7)
    Follow
    Share
    So we can bail them out when they're broke in retirement? I don't think so. These folks have inherently dangerous jobs and could be permanently disabled at anytime. They may need the money in their retirement savings, and this bill would allow them to run that down
    Like (6)
    Follow
    Share
    Too secret, a power grab , a typical example of how the population gets manipulated into ignorance and complacency. A giveaway to China and other Asian nations and and basically a contract to further diminish control on big corporat players.
    Like (5)
    Follow
    Share
    This is a blatant attempt at even more corporate takeover of our government. This bill does not benefit Americans, only corporations.
    Like (4)
    Follow
    Share
    We live in a global economy. It's very likely without this you will have the U.S. Limited in its ability to engage in the already global and changing economy and the implications for our global trading partners could be disastrous
    Like (4)
    Follow
    Share
    Once you open the gate for special treatment it is very hard to close them. We should have learned this lesson for laws for disabled, guys, etc.
    Like (3)
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    Should be practice for all, not just law enforcement.
    Like (2)
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    These careers are more demanding than most and often times they are no longer physically able to continue work. I would much rather see an early retirement than a disability claim. This option should be available for all careers that are age selective in the ability to do the work.
    Like (2)
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    Share
    This bill reeks of Lo Mein and Fried Rice.
    Like (1)
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    There's been more than enough "pass it without reading it" legislation. Treaties that can't be modified would only encourage that.
    Like (1)
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    These Nations Must First Pass/Implement/Enforce Labor Rights And Human Rights Before Any Trade With United States Can Begin.
    Like (1)
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    We don't need this
    Like (1)
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    It's already their money. If they need it give it to them.
    Like (1)
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    Everyone is informed of the penalties. This is unfair to other people, we must promote rule of law and not single out groups of people.
    Like (1)
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    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.
    Like (1)
    Follow
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    Rep. Reichert explicitly comments that these employees may be eligible to retire earlier, whether owing to the hazardous nature of their work, or talents of service, or both. If that's the case, the bill's language should have made this eligibility the key to accessing their benefits earlier than normal.
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    It is their money, they should have access to it. Plus, many have mandatory requirements to retire at 57.
    Like (1)
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    This bill was the last straw in any legitimacy of John crybaby Boehner as a Republican leader. Any concession to a rogue President that marginalizes Congress throws the Founding Fathers' idea of checks and balances into a cocked hat.
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    I voted yea because my farther was a firefighter
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    How many more American jobs do you intend to kill with this NWO stuff?
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