WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) offered the following statement after a hearing of the Senate Finance Committee which examined the role of Congress and the use of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), or “Fast Track,” in ongoing and future trade negotiations. 

“We need a new direction in trade policy, not more of the same NAFTA-style agreements that aren’t good for American workers or American manufacturers,” Brown said. That means a stronger process that ensures objectives are met and trade negotiations are conducted in a more transparent manner. That is the only way to ensure that the American economy is strengthened and the jobs of our workers protected in TTP and TTIP. We must construct a new framework for Congressional-Executive cooperation on trade negotiations.”   

Last week, Brown and U.S. Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) urged the USTR to work directly with them and other members of Congress in constructing a consultation framework in advance of any consideration of TPA. The five Senate Finance Committee members cited the significance of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) as reasons for Congress and President Obama to form a true partnership in order for the United States to negotiate deals advantageous to American interests.  

Today’s hearing, entitled “Advancing Congress’ Trade Agenda, the Role of Trade Negotiating Authority,” featured testimony from:

  • David M. Cote: Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Honeywell International; Morristown, New Jersey
  • Jim Allen: President, New York Apple Association Inc.; Victor, New York
  • Elena M. Stegemann: Director of International Business, NuStep Inc.; Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Larry Cohen: President, Communications Workers of America (CWA); Washington, D.C.

TPP is a proposed trade agreement that currently includes the United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. TTIP is a proposed trade agreement between the United States and the European Union (EU) that began its first round of negotiations in July.

Congress has the constitutional authority to set the terms of trade and commerce with foreign nations. The Administration is conducting the TPP and TTIP talks under the leadership of the Office of the USTR, using authority which officially lapsed in 2007. This suggests that it will seek renewed TPA to conclude TPP and TTIP negotiations, as well as other trade initiatives.