What’s the Difference between the TPA and the TPP?

After reading Clyde’s piece about Paul Ryan and some of the other Congressmen’s conflicting stance on both bills, I came across this, written by Scottie Hughes at Tea Party News Network, which explains it better than anything else I’ve seen so far. It’s quite long, so you might want to skip down a ways where you start to see some clarification.

Many Conservatives were shocked when they learned of Senator Ted Cruz’s support of the Trade Partnership Agreement. A bill, which has drawn lots of fire mainly because of the people who up until now have been the spokesman but that obviously was not working for Speaker Boehner or Senator McConnell as they have now brought in Senator Ted Cruz to help guarantee the bill’s passage.

Rep. Paul Ryan made the Pelosi like mistake on Wednesday during the Rules Committee testimony when he referenced the content of Obamatrade by saying, “It’s declassified and made public once it’s agreed to.” Coupled with the main cheerleader of the legislation being President Obama himself, we can see why Conservatives are extremely concerned regarding both the TPA and the TPP.

Catherine Frazier, National Press Secretary for the Cruz for President campaign told TPNN in an interview this morning that “Americans are right to ask questions in the effort to hold their elected officials accountable. And they are right to make sure that any trade deal brokered between other nations is made public and receives approval from Congress–ONLY Congress has authority to make US law. Trade Promotion Authority ensures appropriate oversight from Congress BEFORE any trade agreement is implemented. We should champion free trade, while also of course ensuring our sovereignty is upheld. Sen. Cruz hasn’t committed to TPP because it is not yet final, and will only support a trade agreement that preserves our sovereignty and is in the best interests of Americans.”

My questions came as a follow up to a previous email Frazier had sent in hopes of trying to clarify some of the misconceptions of the 2 pieces of legislation as well as explain why Senator Cruz was in support of TPA.

Still, I believe Conservatives are justified in their questioning and once again this whole controversy could have been avoided if both pieces of legislation would have been opened to the public for review.  Not to mention, bringing in one of the top Conservative voices in the 4th quarter of the game on one hand shows a lack of strategy but on the other the power that Tea Party supported officials possess.  Power that usually is forgotten or insulted by House and Senate leadership unless needed for passage of a Bill like TPA.

A Note to Conservatives on Trade Agreements

Senator Cruz entirely understands the widespread suspicion of the President.  Nobody has been more vocal in pointing out the President’s lawlessness or more passionate about fighting his usurpation of congressional authority.

Senator Cruz would not and will not give President Obama one more inch of unrestricted power.

There have been a lot of questions and concerns about the ongoing Pacific trade negotiations.  Many of those concerns, fueled by the media, stem from confusion about Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).  Let’s unpack the issues one by one.

What are TPA and TPP?

TPA stands for Trade Promotion Authority, also known as “fast track”.  TPA is a process by which trade agreements are approved by Congress.  Through TPA, Congress sets out up-front objectives for the Executive branch to achieve in free trade negotiations; in exchange for following those objectives, Congress agrees to hold an up-or-down vote on trade agreements without amendments.  For the past 80 years, it has proven virtually impossible to negotiate free-trade agreements without the fast-track process.

TPP stands for Trans-Pacific Partnership.  TPP is a specific trade agreement currently being negotiated by the United States and 11 other countries, including Canada, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand.  China is not a negotiating partner.  There is no final language on TPP because negotiations are still ongoing and have been since late 2009.  Neither the Senate nor the House has voted yet on the TPP.  There will be no vote on TPP until the negotiations are over and the final agreement is sent to Congress.

Some Key Facts:

      Neither the Senate nor the House has voted yet on the TPP.

      Congress is the only entity that can make U.S. law and nothing about TPP or TPA could change that.

      TPA gives the Congress more control up-front over free trade agreements.

      TPA mandates transparency by requiring all trade agreements (including TPP) to be made public for at least 60 days before the Congress can act on them.

Does TPA give up the Senate’s treaty power?

No.  Under the Constitution, there are two ways to make binding law:  (1) through a treaty, ratified by two-thirds of the Senate, or (2) through legislation passed by a majority of both Houses of Congress.  TPA employs the second constitutional path, as trade bills always have done.  It has long been recognized that the Constitution’s Origination Clause applies to trade bills, requiring the House of Representatives’ involvement.

Does the United States give up Sovereignty by entering into TPP?

No.  Nothing in the agreement forces Congress to change any law.  TPA explicitly provides that nothing in any trade agreement can change U.S. law.  Congress is the only entity that can make U.S. law, and Congress is the only entity that can change U.S. law.  Nothing about TPP or TPA could change that.

Does Senator Ted Cruz support TPP?

Senator Cruz has not taken a position either in favor or against TPP.  He will wait until the agreement is finalized and he has a chance to study it carefully to ensure that the agreement will open more markets to American-made products, create jobs, and grow our economy.  Senator Cruz has dedicated his professional career to defending U.S. sovereignty and the U.S. Constitution.  He will not support any trade agreement that would diminish or undermine either.

Does Senator Ted Cruz support TPA?

Yes.  Senator Cruz voted in favor of TPA earlier this year because it breaks the logjam that is preventing the U.S. from entering into trade deals that are good for American workers, American businesses, and our economy.  Ronald Reagan emphatically supported free trade, and Senator Cruz does as well.  He ran for Senate promising to support free trade, and he is honoring that commitment to the voters.

Free trade helps American farmers, ranchers, and manufacturers; indeed, one in five American jobs depends on trade, in Texas alone 3 million jobs depend on trade.  When we open up foreign markets, we create American jobs.

TPA also strengthens Congress’ hand in trade negotiations, and provides transparency by making the agreement (including TPP) public for at least 60 days before the Congress can act on any final agreement.  Without TPA, there is no such transparency, and the Congress’ role in trade agreements is weaker.

Is TPA Constitutional?

TPA and similar trade authority has been upheld by the Supreme Court as constitutional for more than 100 years.

Does TPA give the President more authority?

No. TPA ensures that Congress has the ability to set the objectives up-front for free trade agreements.

Trade Promotion Authority has been used to reduce trade barriers since FDR.  When Harry Reid took over the Senate, he killed it.  History demonstrates that it is almost impossible to negotiate a free-trade agreement without TPA.  Right now without TPA, America is unable to negotiate free-trade agreements, putting the United States at a disadvantage to China, which is taking the lead world-wide.  It is not in America’s interests to have China writing the rules of international trade.

Moreover, Obama is going to be president for just 18 more months.  TPA is six-year legislation.  If we want the next president (hopefully a Republican) to be able to negotiate free-trade agreements to restart our economy and create jobs here at home then we must reinstate TPA.  With a Republican president in office, Senate Democrats would almost certainly vote party-line to block TPA, so now is the only realistic chance.

How can Senator Cruz trust Obama?

He doesn’t.  Not at all.  No part of Senator Cruz’s support for TPA was based on trusting Obama.  However, under TPA, every trade deal is still subject to approval by Congress.  If the Obama Administration tries to do something terrible in a trade agreement, Congress can vote it down.  And most congressional Democrats will always vote no—because union bosses oppose free trade, so do most Democrats—which means a handful of conservative congressional Republicans have the votes to kill any bad deal.  That’s a serious check on presidential power.

Isn’t TPP a “living agreement”?

That particular phrase—a foolish and misleading way to put it—is found in the “summary” portion of one particular section of the draft agreement.  That section allows member nations to amend the agreement in the future, expressly subject to the approval of their governments.  Thus, if some amendment were proposed in the future, Congress would have to approve it before it went into effect.

But isn’t TPA a secret agreement?

No, it is not.  The full text of TPA (fast track) is public.  What the Senate just voted for was TPA, not TPP.

Right now, the text of TPP is classified.  That is a mistake.  Senator Cruz has vigorously called on the Obama administration to make the full text of TPP open to the public immediately.  The text being hidden naturally only fuels concerns about what might be in it.  Senator Cruz has read the current draft of TPP, and it should be made public now.

Critically, under TPA, TPP cannot be voted on until after the text has been public for 60 days.  Therefore, everyone will be able to read it long before it comes up for a vote.

Couldn’t Obama use a trade agreement to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants?

No. There is one section of TPP that concerns immigration, but it affects only foreign nations—the United States has explicitly declined to sign on to that section.

Moreover, Senator Cruz introduced a TPA amendment to expressly prohibit any trade deal from attempting to alter our immigration laws.

Two Republican Senators (Lindsey Graham and Rand Paul) blocked the Senate’s consideration of that amendment, but the House of Representatives has agreed to include that language in the final text of the trade legislation.  Thus, assuming the House honors that public commitment, federal law will explicitly prohibit any trade deal from impacting immigration.

And, regardless, no trade agreement can change U.S. law; only Congress can change U.S.law.

Now you can see why Cruz and some of the others are in favor of the TPA and still undecided on the TPP, since it’s still up for debate. It’s also good to see that Ted Cruz hasn’t flipped his wig as so many, including me, had thought.

Scottie Hughes seems very confident that Congress will be in charge of making these law or not, but with O’s penchant for EOs, I’m not so sure.


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10 Responses to What’s the Difference between the TPA and the TPP?

  1. Uriel says:

    Hey thanks for the clarity Kathy. I really was not sure what the heck to think. Seeing Cruz vote for TPA was staggering to say the least. Now I understand Demo push better.

    • Kathy says:

      Same here, Uriel. When Ted (Mr. Constitution) Cruz was for it, I knew I didn’t understand it clearly – now I see why. It’s not all one package like some in the media are making it sound.

      • Blessed B. says:

        I noticed today on yahoo that one of these was voted down in Congress…..I was confused as to which one they meant….

        Thanks for clarifying…. The media sure likes to muddy the waters!

  2. Clyde says:

    Does ANYONE with two brain cells to rub together think Obama will live up to anything coming from the gutless wonders ? IF we had an OPEN process, shit like THIS would not happen. Another page of the Obama Legacy. Trust NOT.

  3. Garnet92 says:

    Kudos for posting this Kathy. Like so many others, I was concerned when I saw that my hero, Ted Cruz was for the TPA while so many others were against it. I should have had more faith in Cruz and less in what I was hearing from various media outlets.

    However, I still have a couple of reservations about it (TPA) and Ted’s approval of it. One, even though he says that Congress still has overriding say on what is actually done – who actually believes that Obama will abide by whatever Congress puts into law – he is lawless and will, no doubt, find some nefarious way to get around it and, Two, why does it need to be enacted NOW? Why give Obama another 18 months to bend, spindle, and mutilate the law into doing something that HE wants – why can’t it wait for a conservative to be elected in 2016 so we can proceed properly and constitutionally?

    This “gotta approve it to find out what’s in it” crap HAS GOT TO STOP. Bad enough that the public doesn’t know what is being foisted on us, but most or our “representatives” haven’t read the TPP anyway. They have a record of voting on bills without having read (and understood) them. GOTTA STOP!

    • Uriel says:

      With you on this one Garnet. The one voted down is labor compensation (welfare) for anticipated lost jobs. It means the bill has to go back to senate for changes. Slowing him down slightly. However those countries are getting antsy so he will try tricks

    • Kathy says:

      Garnet, the only reason I can think of why this is important now, is because Cruz is concerned that we could lose the majority in 2016. With it being a presidential election, no one is really looking at senators that are up for reelection, although it could make a huge difference.

      Here’s a link that shows who’s up – http://www.periodicalpress.senate.gov/reelection-2016/

      Agreed, the approve it to find out what’s in it has to stop. I think what Ryan meant was approve the TPA so we can air out the TPP and fix it. He’s not the best at explaining himself, and the way the media takes sound bites and twists words, there’s no telling what he really said. That doesn’t mean I trust him – not by a long shot.

  4. tannngl says:

    This is really a great explanation of this murky thing, Kathy. I commend you for finding this and shining the light on what it’s all about.

    I’ve been a little out of action for a bit and didn’t even know that Cruz was for TPA, so this shocked me. But learning the definition of TPA and TPP sure helped. Very good article.

    I’ll watch with more understanding now. I totally trust Cruz. I totally disturst Obama…
    Thanks so much for this.

    • Kathy says:

      Cruz’ support of it was shocking to a lot of people, tannngl, and it was because of the way the two were being lumped together, which confirms the media doesn’t think for themselves or do their own research.

      It’s good to see you back in action – hope all is well with you now.