On June 12, the House of Representatives voted against the passage of TAA (Trade Adjustment Assistance), a vital component of the bi-partisan supported “fast track authority” necessary for negotiation of TTIP and TPP. The House will likely revisit the issue later this month or in July, but no vote is currently scheduled.
TAA is a cornerstone of successful trade policy. Should it fail to pass after being reintroduced, the impact on American workers and companies, trade negotiations, and future trade deals would be severe in three key ways.
First, TAA provides support to American workers and businesses that may be initially adversely affected by new trade deals. If a trade deal replaces domestically produced goods with imported ones, TAA enables the Department of Labor to offer job training to displaced workers so they can hone new skills for new careers.
TAA also empowers the Department of Commerce to aid businesses that may be affected by increased competition by helping them afford consultants to streamline their business practices and increase competitiveness. Similar provisions support American farmers and communities by helping farmers improve their business plans and by awarding development grants to struggling communities.
Second, TAA is an essential part of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), a regularly used legislative procedure that approves the negotiation of trade deals and their submission to Congress for approval without alteration.
While the Senate recently passed TAA and TPA as one combined bill, the House of Representatives is considering the items separately. Thismeans that for TPA to be adopted and sent to the President for his signature, the House must also pass TAA. TPA or “fast track authority” is necessary so that American negotiators have the authority to negotiate a good deal and so our trading partners are able to trust the approval process.
Finally, TAA is necessary so the United States can continue negotiations on TTIP and TPP from a position of strength. These major trade agreements will ensure the US maintains its position of global economic leadership into the future by creating additional free trade zones and therefore opening the world’s markets to US goods and services. Without TAA, negotiations would cease and the effort to use the pending trade deals to improve economic conditions and international relations would fail.
TAA’s importance to the current trade agenda remains clear. Should Congress fail to pass TAA, and therefore TPA, the US would be put in a negotiating position of relative weakness. Furthermore, TAA’s valuable support of American workers and businesses would be lost. TAA is an essential part of US trade policy, and needs to be passed.