Yesterday, Congress introduced Trade Promotion Authority legislation, also known as TPA or “fast track” — a series of guidelines for trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership the Obama administration is currently working on.
When OFA supporters had the chance to ask one of the President’s closest advisors about the administration’s plans to pursue a progressive trade agreement, we heard a lot of questions about what it would look like, and on the process surrounding how it gets done.
Now that Congress has taken a step forward, it’s time for an update.
Let’s start with the basics: What’s the TPA?
Simply put, it’s how Congress sets the rules of the road for trade negotiations. They set guidelines that the President and the administration use to negotiate an agreement with other nations.
Trade agreements typically take years to negotiate, and though the TPA is often called “fast track,” that’s a bit of a misnomer. TPA is a bill like any other (it must go through both the Senate and the House, and then be signed by the President), and it’s just the first step in a months-long process of public and congressional review before any deal would be voted on. This has been the trade agreement process for decades. In fact, presidents on both sides of the aisle have been relying on Congress to pass versions of the TPA since 1974.
What happens after TPA?
The rules set by Congress through the TPA guide the framework for the final trade agreement — the President’s team will then negotiate the deal on the international stage according to the principles laid out, and if the bill released yesterday is passed, they will bring the finished deal to Congress for an up-or-down vote.
The good news is that this bill ensures progressive values, like enforceable labor and environment standards, will be part of the agreement — and that the entire process is transparent.
Why should people pay attention now?
It’s pretty important for working families and for the economy that we get this right. U.S. exports — supported by expanding trade — have contributed nearly a third of our economic growth in the recovery, supporting more than 11.7 million jobs according to the International Trade Administration, and almost 300,000 small and medium-sized businesses in every state according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
Trade agreements are also our best chance to set enforceable labor and environmental protections with new trading partners, instead of letting China set rules that put our workers at a disadvantage.
President Obama has been clear about one big part of this: We can’t repeat mistakes of the past, when workers weren’t well represented. As he said a few weeks ago, “past trade deals haven’t always lived up to the hype. That’s why I’ve made it clear that I won’t sign any agreement that doesn’t put American workers first.”
You can learn more about the President’s approach to crafting a progressive trade agreement, and the process behind the TPA in this blog from the White House:
You probably have friends who have questions about this, too. Please forward this email along — and stay tuned. We’ll keep you updated on what happens from here.
Thanks — more soon,
Organizing for Action
Florida is once again in the news for ignoble reasons (and we aren’t talking about this guy). It seemed that the state’s Republican leadership was on track to finally close Florida’s health care coverage gap, and potentially pave the way for movement in other conservative states. By agreeing to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, nearly 800,000 working-class Floridians would have got access to health insurance. Unfortunately, conservative ideology has once again gotten in the way of bringing health care to working families.
While Governor Rick Scott (R) had waffled on supporting closing the coverage gap, he came out in support in February 2013. As the former CEO of the country’s largest for-profit hospital company, Scott said that “I cannot, in good conscience, deny the uninsured access to care.” Obama administration officials and the Florida governor were negotiating over details while the Florida Senate unanimously passed a budget that would have closed the coverage gap.
But then, conservative obstructionism made a reappearance. Florida House Republicans stubbornly refused to even entertain a compromise, threatening a kind of rhetorical war against their erstwhile allies in the Senate. Conservative outside groups, like the Florida chapter of the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity, attacked closing the gap as “Obama’s Medicaid expansion,” despite the support of the Republican Senate president and the Republican governor.
That is, before Governor Scott flip-flopped back to opposing Medicaid expansion, causing the impasse where we are now. Scott has accused the Obama administration of coercing the state to accept federal funding for Medicaid expansion by declining to renew $1 billion in federal funding for another program, which funds hospital care for the uninsured. Put another way, the Obama administration is telling Scott that he should use federal money to offer low-income people health insurance, not just to provide hospital care, and Scott doesn’t like it. (Scott, by the way, has known the funding was set to expire for over a year.) Now, the Florida governor is suing the administration over the issue. Instead of focusing on ensuring that their constituents receive health insurance, Scott and Florida House Republican leadership would rather obstruct and litigate a settled matter.
BOTTOM LINE: In the face of so many facts saying the Affordable Care Act works, why do conservatives continue to lean on the courts to block health care from millions? At the federal level, as we know, conservative efforts in the King v. Burwell case threaten health care for over 8 million Americans. And now in Florida, Governor Rick Scott is also going to the courts in a strained effort to deny health care to hundreds of thousands of his constituents. Real lives are at stake; it is time that we put patients over politics and support the expansion of health care to working Americans.
just another rant ..,
In memory of the BP oil spill … A day just like today, the sun came up and the light of day gave way to a whole lot of life, but on 4/20, the morning light showed just how bad the BP oil spill disaster was, uncovering an event that will forever affect the Gulf Coast. As the media pushes, viewers begin to listen because they have questions, the media thinks they have solutions and the answers to how each Political Party will handle the disaster that is BP. They will talk about the BP oil spill and the damage to marine wildlife and habitat, the economy, the health of the people, those who worked and fought the oil as well as the local government weather and each other to save the Gulf Coast.
We all need to Remember the eleven people who died.
I still wonder just how much the Republican Party of No knows about the lack of preparedness drilling oil companies seem to be engaged in.
The BP oil disaster … proof of our need for rules regulations and while some oil companies rely and exist on short cuts and deregulation; Congress, specifically those from oil Country have avoided legislation that would make sure it does not happen again. Republicans did not seem fazed by the oil disaster whatsoever, screamed for more drilling though eleven people died, no heads rolled and no one did any jail time. It was the worse spill in our history yet Congress has swept it under the depths of the ocean that clearly needs man’s help. I have a riddle …what happens when a big corporation might knowingly try to save money by betting on worst-case scenario. Well, we do not know how many other narrow escapes there were or why they simply chose not to have high-tech equipment already in place or a multi-billion dollar plan B, but luck ran out and somebody’s risk analysis tool failed.
President Obama is willing to change direction on issues when the facts and or evidence show themselves. The moratorium President Obama put in place was a move coming from a President who has common sense. The BP oil disaster, led to major delays and or cancellation of offshore drilling and this clearly upset Republican members of Congress. Yet, given the latest information, maybe they should be more accountable for pushing for less regulation, less time waiting for permits more space for drilling; like that, 84,000 acres BP is or will lease to Ohio; which happens to be Boehner country. It is with great sadness folks on the right talk about drilling, like that old cliché … for us by us. FYI – it will take at least ten years to produce enough of our own to make a slight difference; in the meanwhile we should be implementing a full range of things including wind and solar but Republican oil seems to be more important. Yes, there are jobs, jobs, jobs in that there oil but betting against the odds puts more than an oil platform at risk which cannot be said enough times . A human error
I have to say the first reports of the explosion and then word that everything was okay made me wonder …common sense tells you okay the well is underground; it could bleed out, up or both. This spill, the worse ever is a warning to change the rules regulations, the way the clean-up process works with all equipment close or at least get an emergency plan in place. Safety first, seems like common sense at work though not too lucrative. I am no expert, but emergency equipment should always be available immediately. However, I saw nothing but boats watching, waiting for the leak to show and spread.
I haven’t heard much lately, but folks want to know what exactly is the status of the wildlife, those eyeless, clawless oddly deformed shellfish or fish with open sores some gulf coast fishermen may have caught though the FDA said “no worries,” we all wonder how much pollution they theirs or we are being subjected to.