“NO” on Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (H.R. 2146)
This week, the Senate will vote on the House-passed Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (H.R. 2146), which would grant President Obama fast-track authority, also known as Trade Promotion Authority (TPA).
While the bill does not contain the ineffective Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program, Republican leaders made clear in a joint statement that they will ensure the “President can sign [TAA] into law.” They even acknowledged “It’s a little bit of a high wire act” and that “Everybody knows we can’t have TPA without TAA, so we’ve got to get it passed.”
In addition to the procedural gimmickry, the underlying substance has gotten worse. At the behest of Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) 14%, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) abandoned the Senate-passed plan to use Medicare savings to pay for the renewal of TAA. The new pay for — included in H.R. 1295 which the Senate will also consider this week — increases revenue by raising certain tax penalties. New spending should not be offset by new revenues.
Finally, the agreement to advance the Export-Import Bank remains unaddressed by Republican leaders. On May 21, Senator Lindsey Graham tweeted that the “Most important aspect of agreement is [that] we will also have the opportunity to vote on #ExIm reauth attached to the Highway Trust Fund reauth.”
Over the past month, the congressional process has spawned a special interest boondoggle that does more to advance big government than promote the virtues of free trade.
Heritage Action opposes H.R. 2146 and will include it as a key vote on the legislative scorecard.