WASHINGTON, June 24, 2015 –The Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill should be on President Obama’s desk within days, with the last major hurdle cleared in the Senate. On Tuesday, the Senate agreed, 60-37, to advance the legislation to a final congressional vote.
In a key victory for Obama, 13 Democrats joined 47 Republicans in voting for cloture on the Trade Promotion Authority bill (HR 2146), which would ensure that trade agreements can get an up-or-down vote in Congress without risk of amendment.
Sixty votes were needed to advance the bill to a final vote on Wednesday that will require only a simple majority to send the measure to Obama for his signature.
Now, the president’s challenge is to deliver a Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement that provides the new market access that U.S. agriculture is counting on – in time for the deal to pass this Congress.
Darci Vetter, the administration’s chief agriculture negotiator, told the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives on Tuesday that a TPP deal is “darn close.” She went on, “You’ve heard me say before that we are in the end game, and now I really mean it. There really are just a handful of things left.”
Of course, one of those items on the to-do list is an agreement by Canada to open up its markets to U.S. poultry and dairy. Vetter noted that Prime Minister David Harper faces a tough election in October, but she suggested that the TPP agreement could be wrapped up “well before” that. If it isn’t, Congress won’t take up TPP until well into the presidential primary season. She’s not sure that waiting would alter the “overall negotiating dynamic” for Harper’s government.
If it does take that long, congressional consideration of the agreement would be pushed well into the presidential primary season.
The TPA bill (HR 2146) contains requirements for public disclosure and economic analysis that mean it will be four to five months after the agreement is finished before the House and Senate can vote on TPP. Under the bill, the text of an agreement must be public for 60 days before the president can sign it. After that it will take another two or three months for the analysis to be completed before the deal goes before Congress.
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