Lawmakers reach deal on fast-track trade measure

By Philip Brasher

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, April 16, 2015 - Lawmakers finalized a bipartisan three-year fast-track bill Thursday to smooth the way for negotiating and ratifying trade agreements with Pacific Rim nations and the European Union.

The Republican and Democratic leadership of the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said the legislation would tighten the trade deals to benefit U.S. exporters and ensure that the public has time to scrutinize the text of agreements.

Together we can feed the Bees" The bill lays out a number of negotiating objectives the administration is to address, including to ensure enforceable rules on sanitary and phytosanitary measures to curb the use of geographical indications to protect regional names of products such as cheese.

There are also new negotiating objectives on issues such as human rights and currency manipulation, but those are unlikely to appease many Democrats.

The Senate Finance Committee called an unusual afternoon meeting to review the just-released Trade Promotion Authority bill and plans to vote on the legislation next Thursday.

Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, called the bill a “smart, bipartisan compromise that will help move America forward. The renewal of TPA will help American workers and job creators unlock new opportunities for growth and promote better, higher-paying jobs here at home.”

The committee's ranking Democrat, Ron Wyden of Oregon, said the legislation “creates what I expect to be unprecedented transparency in trade negotiations, and ensures future trade deals break new ground to promote human rights, improve labor conditions, and safeguard the environment.”

The legislation would create a new process to revoke the fast-track process if lawmakers decide an agreement does not meet the negotiating objectives.

The committees also released a summary and section-by-section analysis of the bill.

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