Wittman Opposes Pair of Trade Bills

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Provided by the Office of Rob Wittman

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Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-1) today voted in opposition to Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and Trade Adjustment Assistance. TPA is the mechanism whereby Congress grants the president authority to enter into trade negotiations, sets trade negotiating objectives, and establishes notification and approval processes for certain trade agreements, among other provisions.

“Free trade is a critical element of smart economic policy, and I am a strong supporter of responsible trade agreements,” Wittman said. “However, I read this bill from top to bottom, and I am deeply concerned with the ambiguities and vagueness of many of the U.S. trade negotiating objectives it lays out. The  U.S. needs to be negotiating from a position of power. With TPA, Congress is undercutting its own ability to maintain leveraging authority over its priorities by failing to define strategic directives as specifically as possible.

“I have met with business owners and employees across the district who have said that American workers can compete with anyone in the world as long as there is a fair playing field, and I agree with them. However, without defining what that playing field looks like in this bill, we run the risk of giving negotiators the flexibility to negotiate away or leave out provisions that are key to industries in the First District and across the Commonwealth in order to finalize a deal.

“At the same time, while TPA would allow Congress to take an up or down vote on any final trade agreement negotiated by the executive branch, I do not think this so-called ‘fast track’ authority provides our highest legislative body enough influence over such a far reaching and consequential deal. I also do not have much trust that this administration will negotiate a beneficial trade agreement.

“There is no question that lowering trade barriers is critical for economic growth, and I have no doubt that many TPA supporters have this goal in mind. However, good intent is not the same as good policy. Because of today’s vote, TPA is not going to the president’s desk. As this debate continues, I remain committed to fighting for free trade agreements that truly benefit our nation.”

Congressman Rob Wittman represents the 1st District of Virginia. He serves on the House Natural Resources Committee and the House Armed Services Committee, where he is Chairman of the Readiness Subcommittee.

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