Rep. Kelly Commends Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act

Jan 10, 2014 Issues: Trade

WASHINGTON — Representative Mike Kelly (R-PA), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, issued the following statement today in strong support of the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014. The legislation – introduced yesterday by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI), Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT), and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) – reauthorizes Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which is a critical piece of United States trade policy that significantly strengthens Congress’ role in expanding trade through global agreements, helping to boost U.S. exports and create American jobs. A summary of the legislation can be found here.

“I am very proud to join colleagues on both sides of the aisle in strongly supporting the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act. By renewing TPA, we will allow important ongoing trade negotiations with more than one hundred countries and economies to conclude and ultimately enable America to further dominate the global stage with our goods and services.

“The economic benefits of global trade are well known and widespread. When access to the world’s consumers is opened and expanded, American businesses thrive and new jobs grow. TPA gives Congress a meaningful role in all trade negotiations, which will allow us to make sure that all agreements are fair and beneficial to our nation’s workers and their communities. With TPA, Congress can exercise its power to set clear priorities and boundaries for the president, to ensure transparency from the administration throughout the negotiating process, and to make sure that Congress has the final say on any trade deal.

“As a nation blessed with the best workers and most abundant resources in the world, we ought to be seizing every opportunity to take advantage of the global marketplace in order to give ourselves the economic resurgence we’ve been waiting for. TPA is indispensable for letting us reach our potential, and I look forward to helping Chairman Camp and the Ways and the Means Committee enact this critical legislation.”


Courtesy of the House Ways and Means Committee:

Trade Promotion Authority

Preserving U.S. Sovereignty and Congressional Prerogatives

TPA Sets Negotiations Objectives for the Administration to Meet

  • TPA is the opportunity for Congress to set the priorities for trade negotiations, not the Administration.
  • If the Administration does not make progress in achieving these objectives, TPA allows Congress to consider a privileged disapproval resolution stripping TPA. 

TPA Requires Robust Consultation with Congress Before, During, and After Negotiations

  • Before initiating negotiations, the Administration must submit written notice and consult at least 90 days prior to entering into negotiations.
  • The Administration is required, throughout the negotiations and immediately prior to initialing the agreement, to consult extensively with Congress.
  • If the Administration fails to consult, TPA allows Congress to consider a privileged disapproval resolutions stripping TPA. 

Only Way to Change U.S. Law is Through Congressional Action

  • TPA provides that Congress retains the ultimate authority to vote for – or reject –the final trade agreement. 
  • The trade agreement has no direct effect, in other words – it cannot supersede existing U.S. law – and the Administration cannot change U.S. law to implement trade agreements on its own.
  • TPA would not apply to an agreement if both Houses separately agree to a procedural disapproval resolution.

Special Procedures Reserved for Trade Agreements Only

  • Implementing bills since 2002 TPA have included only provisions strictly necessary or appropriate to implement trade agreements.
  • Any commitments that are not disclosed to the Congress before an implementing bill is introduced are not to be considered part of the Agreement approved by Congress and have no force of law.

Conservative Legal Scholars Have Historically Supported TPA

  • When Congress last considered TPA, Reagan Attorney General Ed Meese wrote, “The concern some lawmakers have expressed, that TPA would somehow diminish American sovereignty, is misplaced.  If anything, the opposite is true.”
  • In 1994, Judge Robert Bork wrote, “The sovereignty issue, in particular, is merely a scarecrow.  Under our constitutional system, no treaty or international agreement can bind the United States if it does not wish to be bound.  Congress may at any time override such an agreement or any provision of it by statute.”


Read more about TPA here: