Thus far, every US president since Gerald Ford has enjoyed trade promotion authority (TPA) for at least part of their presidency except for President Obama. On Wednesday night, the Senate took a big step towards granting President Obama TPA for the first time in his presidency. The timing could not be more important. President Obama is nearing completion on what many say is the largest free trade agreement in global history: the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). By some estimates, the trade deal is so broad that it will effect 40% of US exports.
If the TPP works as well as President Obama has stated, it will lead to increased domestic manufacturing, job & wage increases, and economic activity. If the TPP works as critics fear, it will further depress domestic manufacturing, ship jobs overseas to lower-income markets, further depress domestic wages, and erode the nation’s financial, labor, and environmental regulations.
Still, SteveMurray.com has reported in the past that passage of TPP is believed to hinge on whether the president has TPA or fast-track authority as it’s colloquially called. This is because nearly all of the participating nations in the treaty will not ratify the accord unless they have assurances that the US congress will not be able to amend or filibuster the deal. The compromise between Senators McConnell and Reid was reached after both leaders agreed to first allow floor votes on companion legislation to TPA. One of the most controversial bills is the custom & border enforcement bill. It has been marked up by Democrats to allow for sanctions to be imposed on any nation found manipulating its currency. After the companion legislation is voted on, the Senate will take up TPA. The TPA vote may occur as early as next week.