The House passed sweeping legislation Friday that will give the executive branch “fast-track” authority on trade negotiations.
— CSPAN (@cspan) June 12, 2015
Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) barely passed 219 to 211 Friday. Once signed into law, it would force Congress to cast an up or down vote on trade agreements without adding any amendments, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership. President Obama huddled with House Democrats in an effort to whip as many votes as possible ahead of Friday’s session, The Hill reported. The Senate passed the bill last month.
One of the most surprising “yea” votes was cast by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, after a deal was brokered to insert an immigration provision he proposed in the TPA legislation:
None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to negotiate or finalize a trade agreement that includes provisions relating to visas issued under section 101(a)(15) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)).’
“This amendment is the foundation of my language that will be enrolled with TPA,” King said in a statement. “My language tells the executive branch that they cannot negotiate changes in our immigration laws or use visa programs as a negotiating tool. Further, my language keeps immigration out of all future trade agreements negotiated under TPA. I am confident this has improved TPA and it gets me to a yes on the final bill.”
But documents in the Trade in Services Act (TiSA), another one of the deals that would be presented to Congress once TPA is enacted, names 37 industries where U.S. visa processes must be expedited, requiring no more than 30 days for a temporary worker visa to be approved, as pointed out by Breitbart.
The news outlet also mentioned that only an “[X]” is given where the number of years would be filled in for the length of entry or temporary stay.
Conversly, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., came out against TPA. “[W]hile I’m a big supporter of TAA, if TAA slows down the fast track, I am to vote — I am prepared to vote against TAA,” Pelosi said on the House floor ahead of the vote. “Because its defeat, sad to say, is the only way that we will be able to slow down the fast track.”
The House failed to pass an extension of the Trade Adjustment Assistance program (TAA), 126 to 302, which gives aid to workers displaced by trade agreements–but was proposed again by Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, with a vote scheduled Tuesday. It was suspected that had TAA failed, TPA would not be brought to the floor for a vote.
House now begins first vote (& potentially only) vote on trade. This is on TAA. If TAA is adopted, they go to TPA. If it fails, that’s it.
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) June 12, 2015
TPP, one of the trade deals which will be presented to Congress, has been criticized from both the left and right and shrouded in secrecy, as Edward-Isaac Dovere noted in Politico last month. “If you want to hear the details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal the Obama administration is hoping to pass, you’ve got to be a member of Congress, and you’ve got to go to classified briefings and leave your staff and cellphone at the door.”
The lower chamber also passed Trade Enforcement legislation, which includes language tightening restrictions on trade manipulation and “make[s] permanent the tax deduction for charitable contributions of food by any trade or business.”
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This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth