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June 18 – Congressman Carter votes for foreign trade bill that provides Congressional oversight, informs the public

Category: National News

by Lou Phelps, Savannah Business Journal

June 18, 2015 – House Republicans today passed the foreign trade bill known as “Fast-Track” Thursday morning, but not without political negotiations.  President Obama has sought more control over his ability to sign trade deals, but the House passed a bill that insures Congressional control.

Congressman Carter supported the version of legislation that calls for all proposed trade deals to be posted on the internet for at least 60 days to allow for a public comment period before then going to the Congress for approval. The President had sought more authority to sign trade deals, which Carter said he did not trust.

While they might be strange bedfellows, the AFL-CIO launched a social media campaign this morning locally after the voter, asking Facebook users in the Savannah area to thank Carter for his vote on a hard-fought piece of legislation.  Big labor does not support 'fast-tracking' trade deals, concerned that some deals may export jobs; the compromise legislation will give all stakeholders time to make their concerns or support known.

The President has been seeking "fast-track" authority over a 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement.  Those opposed to the legislation were concerned that it put too much power in the hands of the executive branch of government, and made it very difficult for Congress to stop a proposed trade deal by any sitting President.

The House passed the legislation last week, but then another bill that also had to pass in order for the bill to go to the President for signature, failed. 

The version of The Trade Act, HR 1314 passed today would establish Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), a process by which Congress lays out requirements for trade agreements to receive expedited consideration, versus giving more deal-making power to the executive branch.

“With two of the busiest and fastest growing ports in the nation, international trade is a critical factor in the economic prosperity of the First District and all of Georgia,” said Carter.  “Unfortunately, America is falling behind.  Since 2007, there have been more than 100 trade agreements signed around the world and we were party to none.  We just can’t afford to let that continue.  In order to create more opportunity and more jobs all across America, we need to open more markets to American-made products that will be exported through our ports like Savannah and Brunswick. TPA will expedite these much-needed agreements while giving the American people a voice in ensuring any deal benefits the American people.”

“We need to expand trade opportunities but we can’t harm working American families in the process,” Carter said.  “Right now, trade agreements are being negotiated behind closed doors with no transparency and it cannot stand. I voted for TPA today to hold President Obama accountable and ensure any trade agreement is available for everyone to review. Like many, I don’t trust the President and that is exactly why I voted for this legislation today,” said Carter in a statement last week.

“I again voted for TPA today because Georgia jobs are too important to be left in the hands of an untrustworthy President and the Democratic Party who sunk their own priorities to hinder free trade and American competitiveness,” Carter said. “President Obama has proven his complete disregard for our constitutional checks and balances and TPA prevents the President from entering into secret trade deals. Conservatives such as Senator Ted Cruz, Condoleezza Rice, the American Conservative Union and Americans for Tax Reform agree and have supported this bill because a vote against TPA is a vote to send American business and jobs to our competitors like China. I refuse to let that happen.”

The House recently passed H.R. 1314, the Trade Act, to establish TPA but was hindered by procedures on the House floor. TPA will help deliver the strongest possible trade agreements that will boost American exports and benefit American workers, manufacturers, farmers, ranchers, and job creators.

“TPA is critical for Georgia jobs and the economic prosperity of our local economy,” Carter said. “1.2 million jobs in Georgia depend on international trade and, with two of the fastest growing ports in the country here in the First District, there is a great opportunity to increase this number. Unfortunately, American job creators are not playing on a level playing field and our trading partners will continue stacking the deck without the best possible trade agreements. TPA will accelerate these much-needed trade deals and ensure the American people have the final say.”

The TPA has three main components: a list of nearly 150 congressionally-prescribed negotiating objectives that sets priorities for the administration to follow; robust consultation and transparency requirements that give Congress adequate oversight of negotiations and give the public a full understanding of what an agreement would mean including a 60 day public review period for any deal; and a streamlined procedure to vote on a trade agreement if the administration meets its TPA obligations.

 

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