Tags: Barack Obama | Tim Scott | Trey Gowdy | trade | authority | empowers | congress

SC's Gowdy, Scott, Back TPA: It 'Empowers Congress,' Not the President

By    |   Wednesday, 17 June 2015 06:20 PM

South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott and Rep. Trey Gowdy argued Wednesday that granting Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) to President Barack Obama "empowers Congress and the American people, not the president or the executive branch.

"The TPA bill specifically says that any provision of a trade agreement that conflicts with U.S. law, be it immigration, environmental regulations or labor rules, will have no effect, and that U.S. law will supersede any foreign law in a dispute," the legislators said in an op-ed in The Spartanburg (S.C.) Herald-Journal.

"It is about dictating the terms of trade negotiations beforehand, ensuring transparency in the process and providing months for our fellow citizens to read the text before it can be voted on."

The House is debating whether to grant Obama the authority so he can complete a 12-nation Pacific trade agreement. His hopes were dashed on Friday, when House Democrats engineered an embarrassing defeat of a companion bill to grant aid to American workers who lose their jobs to foreign trade agreements.

Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi led the fight against the aid bill in order to stop the overall TPA bill from reaching Obama's desk. The Senate approved both proposals last month.

On Wednesday, House Republican leaders were lobbying Democrats on a plan to revive President Obama’s trade package by adding the fast-track authority to an unrelated bill.

Gowdy, who is in his third term in the House, chairs the special committee investigating the 2012 Benghazi attacks that killed four Americans. Scott was elected South Carolina's first African-American senator in November after filling out the term of Sen. Jim DeMint, who stepped down to head the Heritage Foundation.

The legislators said that TPA would give South Carolina "a fair set of rules, the protection of intellectual property and access to markets. International trade accounts for more than one in five jobs in South Carolina."

The United States is a party to only 20 of the 262 regional trade agreements around the world, they said.

"After seven years of weak, directionless U.S. foreign policy, China has been eager to take advantage of the leadership void and has been desperate to strike trade agreements with countries," Scott and Gowdy said.

"For the sake of our workers, our manufacturers, our exporters and our economic stability moving forward, we must act smartly but decisively."

They also railed against criticism that the authority allows agreements to be negotiated in secret and argued that the legislation would hold any administration accountable.

Under the proposed law, presidents must "pursue 150 negotiating objectives specifically established by Congress," the lawmakers said, "consult with and report to Congress on how negotiations are going, and provide an unprecedented level of transparency so the American public has months to read and review any potential agreements negotiated under the TPA.

"If, and only if, the president meets these objectives, the agreement will receive an up or down vote in Congress, ensuring a good deal is protected from amendments seeking to kill it.

"On the other hand," Gowdy and Scott added, "if the president fails to meet them, then we can rescind Trade Promotion Authority."

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South Carolina Republican Sen. Tim Scott and Rep. Trey Gowdy argued Wednesday that granting Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) to President Barack Obama empowers Congress and the American people, not the president or the executive branch. The TPA bill specifically says that...
Tim Scott, Trey Gowdy, trade, authority, empowers, congress, limits, executive
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2015-20-17
Wednesday, 17 June 2015 06:20 PM
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