By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Friday, June 12, Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) and Congresswoman Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) both voted in favor of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which helps facilitate the consideration of free trade agreements.
Democrats and some conservatives opposed TPA because they feel that the United States has not been well-served in previous trade agreements.
Congressman Byrne said in a statement afterwards, “TPA is about boosting the American economy, promoting a strong foreign policy, and restricting an out-of-control President. Every President already has the authority to negotiate trade agreements, but this legislation puts Congress in the driver’s seat and ensures transparency for the American people.”
Congresswoman Roby said in her own statement, “Trade with other countries is good as long as it’s fair. We want Alabama products to be sold in growing international markets and ensure America builds its economic advantage globally. With China’s economic emergence, that’s as important as ever.”
US Representative Byrne said, “Free trade agreements are also an important foreign policy tool. If the United States doesn’t engage in trade with our allies in the Pacific and Europe, nations like China and Russia will fill the void and expand their influence in the region. That cannot happen.”
US Representative Martha Roby said, “But, I don’t want President Obama having unilateral trade authority. I want strict checks and balances from Congress, as well as a multi-layered mechanism to shut down bad trade deals. That’s why enacting the Trade Promotion Authority is important. TPA empowers Congress to hold this President accountable for presenting the strongest trade agreements possible, and if he doesn’t, we can strike them altogether.”
Rep. Byrne continued, “Trade is critically important to our local economy in Southwest Alabama. Over 558,000 jobs in Alabama alone are supported by trade, and the Port of Mobile is among the top United States ports serving manufacturing, mining, and agribusiness exports. With TPA in place, the United States can finalize free trade agreements that support American workers and bring jobs to Southwest Alabama.”
Roby accused opponents of producing an abundance of misinformation causing significant confusion over what the bill actually does.
Rep. Roby said, “Some of the rumors out there have been pretty alarming, so I went and spent extra time studying the bill for myself. Despite some of the widespread misinformation out there, I’m confident TPA puts us in a better position to approve good trade deals and stop bad ones, all in a transparent way.”
According to information provided by Rep. Byrne’s office, “TPA is not a trade deal itself, but instead, a way for Congress to set the negotiating guidelines which the President must adhere to when negotiating trade agreements. The United States is currently in negotiations with a number of Pacific Rim and South American countries located on the Pacific regarding a new free trade agreement. Similar talks are ongoing with our allies in Europe.”
TPA has been endorsed by conservative leaders and organizations including Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin), Governor Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin), Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), the American Conservative Union, the Cato Institute, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board, Charles Krauthammer, Americans for Tax Reform, and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio).
According to Byrne’s office the TPA also has the support of: the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce, South Baldwin Chamber of Commerce, Manufacture Alabama, Alabama State Port Authority, Alabama Farmers Federation, SSAB steel company, and representatives from other industries.
Trade Promotion Authority, H.R. 1314 passed the House on a vote of 219 to 211. Reps. Roby, Byrne, Mike Rogers (R-Saks), and Terri Sewell (D-Selma) all voted for the controversial agreement. Reps. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville), Gary Palmer (R-Hoover), and Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) voted against the TPA.