Rep. Trey Gowdy spoke at the sold out Greater Greer Chamber of Commerce First Friday luncheon on June 7.
TPA sets parameters the administration must negotiate under, and it ensures that the public will be able to read any trade agreement months before it is voted on by Congress, according to Gowdy and Scott.
International trade accounts for more than one in five jobs in South Carolina, and in the Upstate alone exports support more than 64,000 jobs. To put it simply, our state is a trading powerhouse.
Whether it's exporting automobiles or agricultural products, producing tires and turbines or powering a manufacturing renaissance, our workers can compete with anyone, anywhere.
With 95 percent of the world's customers — and 80 percent of its purchasing power — outside the United States, all South Carolina needs is a fair set of rules, the protection of intellectual property and access to markets. But the rest of the world — especially our competitors — knows this, too.
In an increasingly global economy, there is a race to determine who will write the rules and standards — there are 262 regional trade agreements in the world, and the U.S. is only party to 20 of them. 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.
For the sake of our workers, our manufacturers, our exporters and our economic stability moving forward, we must act smartly but decisively.
Under consideration in Congress right now is Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). TPA is not a trade agreement. It is the way we ensure that the administration is being transparent and responsive to the concerns of the American people for all trade talks.
TPA sets parameters the administration must negotiate under, and it ensures that the public will be able to read any trade agreement months before it is voted on by Congress.
TPA is publicly available for every American to read at www.Congress.gov.
While in the past TPA has been called "fast-track," this new, muscular version of TPA is designed very differently from past versions. It reins in presidential authority and places much needed oversight and scrutiny on any potential trade agreements.
Currently, without TPA, the U.S. trade representative, appointed by the president, can negotiate without any congressional oversight and does not have to share significant details of that process with anyone outside the administration.
We understand and agree with those who are wary of more overreach by the Obama administration. From Fast and Furious and the IRS targeting scandal to the secret waitlists at the VA and immigration executive orders, we have heard the voices of our constituents and fought executive overreach like few others have.
Those concerns are why TPA ensures that this and future administrations would be required to pursue 150 negotiating objectives specifically established by Congress, 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, if the president fails to meet them, then we can rescind Trade Promotion Authority.
We have also heard concerns about secrecy from folks across the Upstate. The good news is that TPA mandates any trade deal negotiated under it be made public months before any congressional vote on it. That means every constituent who wants to see everything in the text of the agreement can do so well before any votes.
Finally, this new and modernized version of TPA in no way endangers U.S. sovereignty; rather, it 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.
Some organizations have conflated TPA with the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, which is a specific trade agreement currently under negotiation. We are continuing to monitor the TPP negotiations to ensure that TPP is in the best interest of South Carolina businesses and families. We have also expressed our concerns with TPP in committee hearings on Capitol Hill.
Trade Promotion Authority, if passed into law, will give us a clearer understanding of exactly how our trade representatives are handling the TPP negotiations. And if the U.S. trade representative reaches a final agreement on TPP, then the American people will have more time than ever before to review the proposal and provide input to their congressional representatives. Then Congress would still have to vote on the agreement.
TPA in no way, shape or form approves the TPP trade partnership.
Trade Promotion Authority is not about empowering any president, this one or ones to come. Rather, 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. That's why strong conservatives such as Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, George Will, Charles Krauthammer and the two of us support it.
Trey Gowdy represents the 4th Congressional District in the U.S. House, and Tim Scott is South Carolina's junior U.S. senator.
Republished with permission. It originally was published in the Spartanburg Herald-Journal.