06.10.15

Peters, Brown Urge House Leadership to Require Congressional Approval of New TPP Countries in Trade Bill

Peters, Brown Introduced Amendment to Senate Trade Bill Requiring Congressional Approval of Additional Countries Joining TPP

 

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Gary Peters (MI) and Sherrod Brown (OH) announced today that they sent a letter urging House leadership and the chairman and ranking member of the House Ways and Means Committee to include an amendment to trade promotion authority legislation that would require Congressional approval of additional countries joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

“Never before has a president negotiated a free trade agreement that is intended to expand to more countries in the future. In addition, agreements negotiated at the World Trade Organization do not require subsequent congressional approval before additional countries become party to them,” said the Senators in their letter. “Without inserting clear-cut instructions for expanding the TPP agreement, this Administration or the next could expand the TPP to include China or any other country without adequate congressional input.”

Last month, during Senate consideration of the trade promotion authority bill, Peters and Brown offered an amendment that would have prevented China from docking onto the TPP at a later date without congressional approval. The amendment provided 90 days for Congress to conduct hearings and investigations on potential new member countries so that they can be held accountable for any unfair trade practices, and required Congressional approval before any new country may join negotiations.

Peters previously led a letter to U.S Trade Representative Michael Froman voicing his concerns that TPP could include a docking provision that would allow countries like China to join the agreement in the future without Congressional oversight or approval.

 

Full text of the letter is available below and here.

 

Dear Speaker Boehner, Leader Pelosi, Chairman Ryan, and Ranking Member Levin:

As the House begins consideration of the Trade Act of 2015, we urge you to include a critical amendment that would specify the process by which Congress will approve new countries joining the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). 

This week President Obama stated that the Chinese government has put out feelers to the president and multiple members of his cabinet about joining the TPP.  These statements go beyond news reports that China is monitoring the talks very closely.  Despite the threat of China joining in the near future, the Trade Act of 2015, is silent on how future countries would join the agreement. 

Never before has a president negotiated a free trade agreement that is intended to expand to more countries in the future.   In addition, agreements negotiated at the World Trade Organization do not require subsequent congressional approval before additional countries become party to them.  Without inserting clear-cut instructions for expanding the TPP agreement, this Administration or the next could expand the TPP to include China or any other country without adequate congressional input.

We offered an amendment to the bill that would have spelled out the explicit role Congress should play in evaluating a potential TPP partner, approving negotiations with that partner, and applying fast track to those negotiations.  Now that China has signaled its interest in joining the agreement at high levels of the U.S. government, it is even more imperative that our language be incorporated into the final bill.  We urge you to include our amendment to ensure Congress has a clearly defined role in determining whether China should join TPP.

Sincerely,

Sherrod Brown, United States Senator                                                          

Gary Peters, United States Senator                

 

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