Hatch says trade promotion authority a necessity

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchLive coverage: Trump AG pick grilled on Mueller probe at confirmation hearing Trump praises RNC chairwoman after she criticizes her uncle Mitt Romney Romney sworn in as senator MORE (R-Utah) said Tuesday that giving President Obama expanded trade powers is essential to pushing through a broad global agenda. 

Hatch said he plans to "move carefully but quickly to introduce and mark up" a trade promotion authority (TPA) bill.  

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"I’m currently working with ranking member [Ron] Wyden and Chairman Ryan to see if there are improvements that might be made to TPA so that we can introduce a bipartisan, bicameral bill in this Congress that we can move in short order," he said during remarks at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanHouse vote fails to quell storm surrounding Steve King House passes resolution condemning white nationalism Anti-Defamation League calls on House leaders to censure Steve King over white supremacy comments MORE (R-Wis.) said last week that he also wants to tackle trade promotion authority early this year to set Congress up to approve any trade agreements that might reach Capitol Hill in the next couple of years.

In his remarks, Hatch countered arguments that trade promotion authority cedes too much authority to the White House.

“The legislation that I introduced last year with the two former chairmen — Dave Camp and Max BaucusMax Sieben BaucusOvernight Defense: McCain honored in Capitol ceremony | Mattis extends border deployment | Trump to embark on four-country trip after midterms Congress gives McCain the highest honor Judge boots Green Party from Montana ballot in boost to Tester MORE — actually enhances Congress’s role in trade negotiations by giving specific direction to the administration as to what they need to deliver to get an agreement through Congress,”  he said.

“Absent the passage of TPA legislation, there is no other way for Congress to effectively assert itself and its priorities into ongoing trade negotiations.”

Hatch urged the president to be "more forward-leaning with members of his party" and to push his ambitious trade agenda in the State of the Union address slated for Tuesday night.

"I believe we can get this done quickly," the Utah Republican said. "That is what I am committed to do."

The Obama administration has ramped up its efforts to reach out to those Democrats who have shown an interest in backing the White House's trade policies. 

The Cabinet has been tasked to call trade-friendly Democrats and ensure they have a direct line for any questions or concerns about fast-track authority as well as the pending trade deals — the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Hatch said TPA is “essential if these ambitious trade agreements are going to succeed. And, they must succeed.”

“Trade is essential for a vibrant, growing economy, one that will create more jobs here at home and provide greater prosperity and opportunity for businesses and individuals,” he said.

Hatch said he also wants to renew the Generalized System of Preferences and the African Growth and Opportunity Act, both of which the White House has said they want to get done, too.