Ryan amplifies call for Obama's trade agenda

Ryan amplifies call for Obama's trade agenda
© Greg Nash

Rep. Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanHow Kevin McCarthy sold his soul to Donald Trump On The Trail: Retirements offer window into House Democratic mood Stopping the next insurrection MORE (R-Wis.) warned a wary Congress Sunday that a failure to pass President's Obama's ambitious trade agenda would leave the country behind in an ever-expanding global economy.


"In a world where 95 percent of the world's consumers live in other countries, not our country, we have to break down trade barriers so that we can have more jobs here at home," Ryan said on CBS's "Face the Nation" program. "If you're standing still on trade, you're losing."

Ryan, the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, is co-author of legislation expanding Obama's authority to enact new trade deals by removing Congress's power to amend them. The proposal providing the so-called Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) is seen as a necessary ingredient in Obama's push to finalize sweeping trade deals like the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

The TPA proposal, written with Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), has passed through both the Senate Finance Committee and Ryan's Ways and Means panel. But Republican leaders are having a tough time rallying the votes in the face of conservatives' reluctance to grant additional powers to a president they're long-accused of abusing his executive authority.

Liberal Democrats, meanwhile, are lining up in overwhelming opposition to the bill based on a host of concerns ranging from workers' rights, food safety, environmental safeguards and currency manipulation protections.

"I don't think enough of our issues have been resolved for us to be having a big movement of votes toward the bill," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said last week.

Ryan, forming an unusual partnership with Obama, said his bill includes protections against harm to U.S. jobs. He argued that the rules of global trade will be written with or without Washington's involvement, arguing that it's the country's best interest to have a seat at the table.

"The rules of the global economy … are being written right now. There's no question about that," he said. "The question is, who's going to write them? Are we going to write the rules with our allies or is China going to write them for China's benefit, which is not in our interest?"