Trade Promotion Bill Runs Into Trouble


Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is opposed to Trade Promotion Authority legislation that would speed approval of trade deals. While Reid didn’t go as far as saying he would block a floor vote on the legislation introduced by Senate Finance Chair Max Baucus earlier this month – he said everyone would be well-advised to not push the issue right now. This word from Reid came just a day after President Obama made his push for so-called fast-track authority as the U.S. works to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreements.
There are other problems for the legislation as well. Baucus has been nominated to be the next U.S. Ambassador to China and Oregon Senator Ron Wyden – his expected successor – recently said he isn’t prepared to back the Baucus bill. On the House side – 151 Democrats wrote to President Obama in November to criticize the idea of fast-track authority – and Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin of Michigan has said he’ll lead the opposition to the Baucus measure.
The concern for agriculture – Senate co-sponsor of the Trade Promotion Authority legislation – Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Orrin Hatch – says it will be virtually impossible for the administration to conclude TPP and TTIP without fast-track authority. The American Farm Bureau Federation has said TPA is the catalyst needed to advance proposals to reduce tariffs and improve market access for farmers and ranchers in trade negotiations.