The Biden administration’s list of trade policy stumbles will grow longer this week with the expiration of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). TPA allows Congress to provide trade negotiating objectives to the executive branch while providing expedited procedures to implement trade deals.
As NTU executive vice president Brandon Arnold observed in 2015 with respect to the benefits of trade and TPA: “Trade is about lowering tariffs, which is just another word for taxes -- tariffs that block our access to markets abroad, tariffs that raise the price of goods for consumers, that raise the price of business inputs -- that make it more costly to manufacture here in our country. If you vote against TPA, you’re effectively voting for higher taxes.”
Most presidents have recognized the importance of trade negotiating authority in promoting U.S. economic and foreign policy goals, including President Biden’s most immediate predecessors:
George W. Bush: “I have placed the enactment of U.S. Trade Promotion Authority at the top of my trade legislative agenda. U.S. Trade Promotion Authority tells the world that the President and the Congress are united at the negotiating table in seeking to strike the best possible deals for our country.”
Barack Obama: "We need to work together on tools like bipartisan trade promotion authority to protect our workers, protect our environment, and open new markets to new goods stamped 'Made in the USA.' China and Europe aren't standing on the sidelines. Neither should we."
Donald Trump: “I hope my Administration can continue to work with the Congress to pursue new and better trade deals for America's workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses. Extension of trade authorities procedures is essential to fulfill that task and to demonstrate to our trading partners that my Administration and the Congress share a common goal when it comes to trade.”
Unless President Biden wants to risk going down in history as more hostile to trade than Donald Trump, alarm bells should be ringing at the White House. In the meantime, the expiration of TPA will sideline American workers and families as other countries continue to move forward without the United States.