June 17, 2015

Failed Trade Assistance Bill Leaves Murky Path Forward for TPA

On Friday, June 12th, the House held a series of trade related votes, including a measure to advance Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). While the Senate had passed TPA along with Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) in a single bill, the political dynamics in the House would not have allowed for that combined package to garner 218 votes because a majority of Democrats are opposed to TPA and many Republicans are opposed to TAA. The House decided to instead divide the package into two separate votes, if both measures passed on their own, they’d essentially be rejoined and would have mirrored the Senate passed bill, thus allowing the president to sign the legislation.

An op-ed by President and CEO of Western Growers Tom Nassif was published in the Sacramento Bee prior to the vote extoling the benefits of trade to ag and urging members to vote for the package of trade bills.  Following the votes on Friday, Western Growers issued a statement applauding passage of the TPA and urged the House to swiftly pass the remaining trade provisions so the legislation could be sent to the president for his signature.

Additionally, Western Growers commended the 24 members of Congress from Arizona, California, and Colorado that voted in favor of TPA. Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) provided outstanding leadership in garnering sufficient Republican support, during debate on the measures, he also highlighted the importance for exports to California agriculture and produce in particular. Further, Democrat Congressmen Ami Bera (CA-7), Jim Costa (CA-16), Sam Farr (CA-20), Scott Peters (CA-52), Susan Davis (CA-53), and Jared Polis (CO-2) should all be commended for taking difficult votes in favor of TPA in the face of heavy union opposition and against House Democrat leadership.

House Leadership and the White House have been meeting and strategizing since Friday’s votes to determine alternatives paths forward on this issue. The House may take up the TAA vote again in the coming weeks, although there are no signals that the voting dynamics would change absent major changes and some type of deal. The House may also choose to move a stand-alone TPA bill though it is not clear that the same number of members would vote in favor of a stand-alone bill. Procedurally, this would require further action by the Senate, adding time to the process and could be difficult to achieve.

Western Growers will continue to make the case for the importance of TPA and work with Congress, the Administration and other business groups to see Trade Promotion Authority become law.

 For more information or if you have questions, please contact Ken Barbic at (202) 296-0191.