In his recent State of the Union address, President Obama went all in on international trade.
The Administration has already been aggressively pursuing the most ambitious set of trade agreements in decades—including potentially groundbreaking deals with 11 Asian-Pacific countries (the Trans Pacific Partnership, or TPP), and the European Union (the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or T-TIP), as well as agreements in key sectors like services, information technology, and environmental products.
Now, to set the stage for eventual Congressional approval for these deals, the President has launched an Administration-wide effort to obtain Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) from Congress. Under TPA, Congress sets detailed priorities and extensive consultation requirements for U.S. trade negotiators, and agrees to follow special expedited procedures for agreements that meet these rules.
Congressional Republicans largely support TPA and the Administration’s trade agenda. There is less support, however, among Congressional Democrats, many of whom have doubts about new trade deals. And, because trade has long been a difficult political issue, it’s quite tempting for these trade skeptics to readily side with those who have consistently opposed trade agreements.