U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk told Congress the Obama Administration may seek renewal of long-lapsed Trade Promotion Authority late this year. Under TPA, Congress votes up or down on trade deals without amendments being allowed. Trade Promotion Authority lapsed in 2007 in the Bush administration.
TPA was an important factor in passing the Columbia, Panama and South Korea free trade deals as they were covered under the provision before it lapsed. President Obama, concerned about his union support, has not sought TPA renewal.
However, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk told the House Ways and Means Committee this week that may soon change to accommodate a possible Trans Pacific Partnership deal.
"We aren't going to conclude TPP without Trade Promotion Authority and we want to engage with the leadership of this committee on what we want in the elements of that bill and then we'll timely submit it to you," Kirk said. "We've got to have, we need to have it, it gives us that protection of fast track, which as you know is invaluable. We would not have been able to pass the trade agreements with South Korea, Panama, and Columbia without it."
But when will the White House seek TPA renewal, trade subcommittee chair Kevin Brady, R-Texas, wanted to know…mid-year? Third quarter? By the end of the year, which could follow the elections.
"Mr. Chairman I don't want to handicap whether it's the end of the third quarter, but obviously if we are going to meet that objective of concluding the text we are going to have to have it before the end of the year," Kirk said.
Kirk argues the strong votes on Columbia, Panama and South Korea, after TPA had expired, showed the U.S. still had the political will to press ahead on trade, but conceded TPA must be resolved before Obama sends up a Trans Pacific deal.