Senators finalizing fast-track agreement

By Philip Brasher

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, April 16, 2015 - Leaders of the Senate Finance Committee are preparing to roll out Trade Promotion Authority legislation that the panel will vote on next week.

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The committee plans to meet Thursday afternoon to review the fast-track bill and then vote on the legislation next Thursday.

Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said the TPA bill would move in tandem with a renewal of Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) programs that help workers and businesses harmed by imports.

Hatch opened a trade hearing Thursday morning by announcing that a final deal on the two issues was “very close.”

The TAA legislation, which the committee's ranking Democrat, Ron Wyden, has been negotiating separately with House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is “necessary to maintain Democratic support for TPA,” said Hatch.

Wyden said the TPA legislation would require details of the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership to be published before it is signed. “The public has a right to know from this point on what's at stake in trade.”

A TPA law sets the terms for negotiating trade agreements and establishes the process for congressional consideration. Agreements cannot be amended by Congress.

 

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Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack told the committee that other TPP countries were waiting to put their "final and best offer on the table" until they are assured the fast-track process is in place. The administration is pushing Japan and Canada to lower their barriers to U.S. agricultural products.


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