Friday, March 6, 2015

How We Got Here (Or How We Didn’t) – A TPA Timeline

While we’re all waiting around to see if a bipartisan, bicameral Trade Promotion Authority bill emerges from negotiations on Capitol Hill that are taking longer than hoped, it might be interesting to see how we got here – or how we didn’t – and how positions on TPA kept changing, especially the Administration’s views.
We’re put together a timeline on the ever-changing state-of-play on TPA taken from articles published in WTD over the past 18 months, beginning around the time President Obama nominated Michael Froman as his US Trade Representative.

June 7, 2013 – President Obama wants Trade Promotion Authority “as soon as possible,” Michael Froman – his nominee to be the next US Trade Representative – said yesterday.  “TPA is a critical tool," Mr. Froman told the Senate Finance Committee at his confirmation hearing, pledging to work with Congress to craft the legislation.

September 30, 2013 – President Obama told his President's Export Council yesterday that he needs TPA and is hoping trade is one area where he can get “good bipartisan support” from Congress.  The President said he will need TPA in order to push ahead with the two main items on his trade agenda – the TransPacific Partnership, which he said is “very far along” toward conclusion this year, and the recently launched Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

December 16, 2013 – Top Congressional lawmakers reached agreement on Friday on legislation that would give President Obama Trade Promotion Authority in order to complete the ongoing TransPacific Partnership and future trade agreements.  ....  They plan to formally introduce the bill shortly after Congress reconvenes in January and hope to move it through Congress quickly, so that the Administration can complete the TPP negotiations.

January 10, 2014 – Key Congressional lawmakers yesterday formally introduced what they hailed as “bipartisan, bicameral” legislation to give the President Trade Promotion Authority – but without the support of any House Democrats.

January 17, 2014 – Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont) said yesterday he intends to mark up legislation (S 1900) giving President Obama Trade Promotion Authority “soon” after Congress returns from next week's recess.

January 29, 2014 – President Obama last night called for Congress to work with him on bipartisan Trade promotion Authority so that he can bring home job-creating free trade agreements with Europe and the Asia-Pacific.


January 30, 2014 – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev) yesterday told backers of Trade Promotion Authority not to push him to bring legislation to the floor anytime soon.

February 4, 2014 – President Obama will push to secure Trade Promotion Authority from Congress so that his Administration can conclude two major trade deals that will boost US exports and create higher-paying jobs, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters yesterday.  The President will be working both sides of the political aisle in order the get TPA done, the White House spokesman said.  Mr. Obama hosts House Democrats this evening at the White House and speaks to Senate Democrats on Thursday.

February 6, 2014 – White House spokesman Jay Carney yesterday declined to say whether President Obama will push for quick action on Trade Promotion Authority, telling reporters that it is up to Congress to make the call when to vote.

February 12, 2014 – Incoming Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore) said yesterday he feels no urgency to move on legislation (S 1900) giving President Obama Trade Promotion Authority.  The senator told reporters he wants to take time to talk to committee members and other senators before taking any action on a bill.


March 4, 2014 – President Obama renewed his call for Trade Promotion authority Tuesday, saying it is essential for carrying out his trade agenda, including completion of the ongoing TransPacific Partnership negotiations.

June 19, 2014 – Two senior Democratic members of Congress said yesterday it seemingly makes little sense to pass Presidential Trade Promotion Authority this year as the two major trade agreements the United States is negotiating are well on their way to fruition.

July 18, 2014 – Every one of the Republican members of the House Ways and Means Committee told the White House yesterday not to complete the TransPacific Partnership agreement until President Obama has Trade Promotion Authority in place.

July 24, 2014 – Bringing home a “high-standard” TransPacific Partnership agreement will pave the way for Congressional approval of Presidential Trade Promotion Authority, Acting Deputy US Trade Representative Wendy Cutler said yesterday.


October 31 ,2014 – His primary task now, US Trade Representative Michael Froman said yesterday, is to get good trade agreements with the 12 nations participating in the TransPacific Partnership and a likewise good agreements with the European Union under the TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.  It will be Congress’ responsibility to deal with granting the Obama Administration special Trade Promotion Authority.

November 20, 2014 – “Whenever the opportunity exists” the Administration will push Congress to take up special Trade Promotion Authority – but so far the time is not ripe, US Trade Representative Michael Froman told an audience at the Woodrow Wilson Center yesterday.


December 16, 2014 – The Administration is hoping that Congress will take up legislation to give President Obama Trade Promotion Authority early next year, paving the way for completion of negotiations on the TransPacific Partnership, White House chief economic advisor Jeffrey Zients said yesterday.  “We need to get TPA done and then get TPP across the finish line,” Mr. Zients said.

January 14, 2015 – President Obama told Congressional leaders of both political parties yesterday he thinks trade will be one area for bipartisan cooperation in the new Congress.

January 21, 2015 – President Obama last evening called on lawmakers from both sides of the political aisle to give him Trade Promotion Authority, even as he acknowledged past trade agreements “haven’t always lived up to the hype.”...Earlier in the day, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said that he wants to move “carefully but quickly” on Trade Promotion Authority legislation.


January 23, 2015 – The Administration stands ready to do all it can to secure the votes needed to pass Trade Promotion Authority legislation, US Trade Representative Michael Froman assured House and Senate lawmakers yesterday.  ....  Both Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc) and Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said passage of TPA is their top priority.  The two lawmakers are still in consultations – along with Finance ranking Democrat Ron Wyden (D-Ore) – to see if they can reach agreement on a TPA bill.  Sen. Hatch told reporters he still hopes to see action on TPA in February.  Mr. Ryan declined to predict timing, citing the ongoing discussions.

February 2, 2015 – President Obama is less concerned about how many House Democrats he can deliver to vote for legislation giving him Trade Promotion Authority than in just getting the bill passed, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Friday.

February 16, 2015 – House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc) hopes to have a “bipartisan, bicameral” Trade Promotion Authority bill ready “pretty soon” – but acknowledged the legislation is still under negotiation.

February 20, 2015 – President Obama used his Saturday weekly address to the nation to make his latest push for Congress to grant him Trade Promotion Authority.


February 24, 2015 – US Trade Representative Michael Froman said yesterday it is time to get Trade Promotion Authority legislation done – but it also needs to be updated to reflect the way the global economy works.

February 25, 2015 – An effort to craft bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority legislation has hit a snag in the Senate, threatening to delay introduction of a measure that President Obama is urging Congress to pass.

February 26, 2015 – With efforts still underway to finalize a bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority bill, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) opted to postpone a hearing planned for today on the trade agenda.

March 2, 2015 – Lack of Trade Promotion Authority is having an impact in the ongoing TransPacific Partnership negotiations, where countries are hesitant to make compromises on politically sensitive issues that might be changed by Congress, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Friday.

March 4, 2015 – Senate action on Trade Promotion Authority legislation is not likely to happen now until April because of a continued stalemate over the “fast track” legislative process, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Hatch) told reporters yesterday.

March 5, 2015 – Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and ranking Democrat Ron Wyden (Ore) are still trying to strike a deal on a bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority bill – but a number of issues remain, according to Sen. Wyden’s office.

And then.........