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Trade Promotion Authority and the Trans-Pacific Partnership: What Lies Ahead?

June 8, 2015

By Daniel J. Ikenson

On May 22, 2015, the U.S. Senate passed the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act, better known as Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), by a vote of 62–37. At the same time—and in the same vote—the Senate passed the Trade Adjustment Assistance Enhancement Act (TAA). The bills were passed, respectively, as Title 1 and Title 2 of H.R. 1314, or the “Trade Act of 2015.”1

In light of what appeared to be formidable opposition, passage of the bill in relatively short order is a credit to the commitment of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, and Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden to getting it done. But the road to securing TPA, finalizing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and implementing the agreement remains long and uncertain.

Getting enough votes in the House of Representatives will test the persuasive powers and political acumen of Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan, Speaker John Boehner, and President Obama, who need to woo Democratic support without losing Republican support, or vice versa. The numbers are uncertain and subject to change, as House leadership maneuvers to adjust to actions already taken in the Senate. Meanwhile, with progress on TPA, the TPP talks have begun to move into the “end-game” phase. Although it is uncertain how long this phase of the negotiation will last, it is apparent that the soonest Congress could vote to implement the TPP is early 2016, with the distinct and growing possibility that the matter will fall to a lame duck session or to the next president and the 115th Congress.

Read the full article at the Cato Institute: Trade Promotion Authority and the Trans-Pacific Partnership: What Lies Ahead?

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