Jun 23 2015
Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today voted to advance a bill to give the president Trade Promotion Authority.
In response to widespread misunderstanding on what the Senate voted on, Senator Feinstein released the following statement:
“The Trade Promotion Authority bill I voted for today will provide the president with the authority to negotiate free trade agreements—nothing more, nothing less. It does not include an actual trade agreement, nor does it include controversial provisions that would prevent our trade negotiators from tackling issues like human trafficking, currency manipulation or climate change.
“To be clear, the House included provisions related to these issues in a separate bill focused on customs and trade enforcement. The Senate passed its own customs and trade enforcement bill without those provisions, and negotiations will be held to merge the two versions. If a final customs bill comes before the Senate with harmful provisions that prevent U.S. trade negotiators from addressing these important issues, I would vote against that bill.
“Another key bill, Trade Adjustment Assistance, provides vital job retraining and support for workers displaced by trade, and it must become law as soon as possible.
“Finally, regarding the Trans-Pacific Partnership, it is too early to pass judgment. If an agreement is finalized, I will carefully review its effects on California and if it isn’t good for California, I will vote against it.
“There is clearly much confusion about these separate bills, so I urge all interested parties to review them closely and judge each on its merits.”
Below is background information on each of the four trade-related bills being considered by Congress:
- Trade Promotion Authority (TPA): This bill gives the president authority to negotiate trade agreements and submit them to the Congress for a vote. The Senate, which passed the same version of this bill in May, is on track to pass it again this week. Since the House has already approved this legislation, Senate passage would send this bill to the president for his signature.
- Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA): This bill reauthorizes a $450 million per year program to provide job training and assistance to workers displaced by trade. It previously passed the Senate, but was defeated by the House. This week, the Senate will attach this bill to a separate trade preferences bill (see below) and vote on it again. At that time the bill will again go to the House for final passage.
- Trade Preferences: This bill extends a number of trade preference programs related to Africa and Haiti. The Senate plans to attach TAA (see above) to this bill and approve it this week, sending it to the House for final passage.
- Customs Enforcement: This bill, formally called the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, includes trade enforcement tools to protect American workers from unfair trade practices. The Senate and House both passed separate versions of this bill. The Senate is expected to vote this week to go to conference, where the two versions will be reconciled. At that time, the Senate and House will vote on that final version.