House Passes TPA, But Not a Done Deal

June 12, 2015

The U.S. House of Representatives this afternoon passed Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation, by a vote of 219-211. In a vote immediately preceding TPA, however, the House voted down Trade Assistance Adjustment (TAA), 302-126. Both must pass before going to the president to be signed into law. Republicans motioned to reconsider the vote on TAA, which might occur early next week.  The Senate passed these measures on May 22.

“NCC applauds the House action to pass TPA, and we urge Congress to come to agreement  to ensure that the bill is sent to the president’s desk and becomes law,” said National Chicken Council President Mike Brown. “TPA will ensure foreign access for U.S. chicken, generate more farm income, jobs in rural districts, and improve the U.S. trade balance. Today’s passage of TPA sends a strong signal to the other countries’ negotiators that the U.S. Congress is serious and committed to achieving a new world standard for international trade agreements.”

TPA gives authority to the president of the United States to negotiate international trade agreements that Congress can approve or disapprove but cannot amend or filibuster. Once trade negotiators finalize a deal, Congress gets to review it and vote yes or no. Congress has granted TPA to every president since 1974, with the most recent law being approved in August 2002 and expiring June 30, 2007.

The TAA program would provide training and other assistance to U.S. workers whose jobs are displaced by international trade.

“At one time, Russia and China were the United States’ two largest poultry export markets, but these two markets have been severely disrupted with trade curtailed from previous levels. It is now more important than ever to expand poultry sales to other world markets,” Brown continued. “We are the most efficient poultry producing country in the world and the potential benefits from free and fair trade for U.S. poultry producers are very substantial.”

U.S. poultry producers have long been one of the strongest advocates of free and fair trade, and have supported the efforts of both Democrat and Republican administrations to negotiate important trade agreements.

With almost one of five pounds of chicken being exported, a robust and expanding overseas market is critically important to the economic health and well-being of poultry producers. Chicken exports consist largely of leg quarters and other back-of-bird parts. Unlike North American consumers who overwhelmingly prefer white breast meat, world consumers greatly prefer dark meat. This circumstance means that exports are very necessary to achieve a better balance of supply and demand for all parts of the chicken.

Brown concluded, “The global economy is not the future. It is now. One in every five pounds of chicken in the U.S. is exported. One in three acres on American farms is planted for export. If job creation is the goal, we must have more trade. To have more trade, we need TPA.”

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