TPA means the US will lead on trade

As the global economy expands, nations throughout the Pacific Rim and Europe are looking to their ally, the United States, wondering if we will rise to the occasion and lead another century of economic growth based on the rule of law. Trade promotion authority (TPA) represents our opportunity as a nation to answer that question affirmatively and assure our allies that America remains the leader of the world. If the House of Representatives rejects TPA, our allies will be left looking for another country, like China, to set the rules of the 21st century. For America to continue to determine the rules of the global economy and lead the world in setting and passing free trade agreements, the House must pass TPA.

Since the days of Ronald Reagan, the Republican Party has championed free trade. President Reagan knew that when America competes globally, America wins.


Free trade lowers barriers to entry for American exports. Good trade agreements mean that small businesses, farmers and ranchers can sell more goods abroad, where 95 percent of the world’s consumers live.

More American exports also means more good-paying American jobs. More than 38 million American jobs are tied to trade, and those jobs pay well. In fact, trade-related jobs pay, on average, 18 percent more than jobs that are not related to trade. Free trade also lowers tariffs on U.S. consumers, which means lower prices for American families.

I worked with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to develop a new TPA that would guarantee Congress plays a meaningful role in all trade negotiations. The president possesses inherent authority to negotiate trade agreements with other countries, which means that without TPA, Congress is stuck on the sidelines. With TPA, the president has to follow 150 negotiating objectives given to him by Congress, which means that Congress would play a leading role in ensuring that we get a trade agreement that is representative of what the American people want. According to the Congressional Research Service, the TPA we developed “grants no new authority to the president.”

It is vital that members of Congress and the American people have the opportunity to closely read the text of any completed trade agreement before Congress votes on it. That is why we added a new provision to TPA that would require that the president make public the text of a completed trade agreement for at least 60 days before he or she approves it. It would also require that the president submit to the committees of jurisdiction the final, legal text of a trade agreement at least 30 days before the president may submit an implementing bill to Congress.

In case the president does not negotiate trade agreements according to Congress’s requirements, there are three ways in which TPA can be turned off. First, the Rules Committee can report a resolution turning off TPA procedures for a particular trade agreement. If the House adopts the resolution by a simple majority vote, TPA procedures are turned off for that agreement for the rest of Congress.

Additionally, any member may introduce a TPA Procedural Disapproval Resolution. If reported by both the Ways and Means and Rules committees, a motion to proceed is in order. Following the adoption of a motion to proceed, the resolution would receive up to 20 hours of debate, after which it would get an up-or-down vote. If the Senate adopts the resolution within 60 days, TPA is turned off for that agreement.

Finally, the Consultation and Compliance Resolution represents a new way for Congress to turn off TPA. If the Ways and Means Committee determines that the president has not met the conditions prescribed by TPA, it could trigger a Consultation and Compliance Resolution to turn off TPA for that agreement in the House with a simple majority vote.

Most importantly, TPA reaffirms Congress’s inherent, exclusive right to make changes to U.S. law, including immigration law. With TPA, members of Congress maintain their constitutional right to vote for or against any trade agreement, ensuring that American sovereignty is upheld.

This president and the next president will be busy negotiating trade agreements that show the world that America wants to lead, and TPA is the tool that puts Congress in the driver’s seat as we negotiate important trade agreements that will benefit American consumers, American workers and American businesses. By passing TPA, the House has the opportunity to reconfirm Reagan’s free trade principles while proving to our allies that the 21st Century will be led by the United States.

Sessions represents Texas’ 32nd Congressional District and has served in the House since 1997. He is chairman of the Rules Committee.