Congressmen Rod Blum, Steve King and David Young

Congressmen Rod Blum (R-Iowa), Steve King (R-Iowa) and David Young (R-Iowa) voted yes on Trade Promotion Authority which passed in the U.S. House of Representatives Friday on a 219 to 211 vote.  The bill would fast track trade promotion authority to President Barack Obama to negotiate trade deals.

Blum released the following statement:

Yesterday, I joined 178 Democrats and 33 Republicans in voting “no” on H.Res. 305, a procedural measure on the rules for consideration of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) by the House of Representatives. Though the current form of TPA does include Congressional oversight over the trade agreement process, I voted no because I believed the House should have taken more time to improve the bill by giving Congress additional oversight and strengthening protections for American workers and American jobs in any free trade agreement. The resolution passed the House by a 217 to 212 vote when 8 Democrats decided to vote “yes.”

Today, after reading the entire bill, I voted “yes” on TPA, which passed 219 – 211, for several reasons. First, TPA will force the Obama administration to finally make the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement completely public. All Americans should be able to view a trade agreement of this size and importance before it is enacted, and without TPA that would not happen. Second, TPA allows Congress to reject ANY trade agreements — including TPP — if the deal does not benefit America. Third, TPA gives Congress a seat at the table by including nearly 150 specific pro-America negotiating objectives for free trade agreements. If the Obama administration fails to achieve any of those objectives Congress can revoke TPA at any time.

I also voted “yes” on Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) today in conjunction with TPA. TAA, which failed 126 – 302, provides important benefits and access to retraining programs for American workers who have lost their jobs due to the impact of international trade so they can obtain the skills they need to get back in the workforce quickly. TAA is currently scheduled to be reconsidered by the House next week.

Overall, I know trade is highly beneficial for America and for Iowa. In fact, 1 in 5 jobs in Iowa depend on trade, and opening up new world markets for Iowa products will drive up wages for Iowa workers and increase prosperity in our communities. 95% of the world’s consumers live outside the United States, and good free trade agreements give American businesses access to those customers so they can sell more American products and hire more American workers. Further, America has a trade SURPLUS with countries with which we have free trade agreements, and a trade DEFICIT with countries with whom we have no free trade agreement.

Young released the following statement:

I voted for Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) to ensure accountability, transparency, and lawfulness in any trade agreement coming down the pike from the president. This authority gives Congress a say in the process, so we can review the trade deal and ultimately have an up or down vote in approving or rejecting the agreement. And most importantly, TPA requires the president to make the trade agreement public, so it is transparent and reviewable for Iowans. Regardless of any potential trade agreement, I look forward to listening to Iowans throughout this process.

Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa) voted in favor of TPA, but voted against TAA.  His office did not release a statement.  U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) voted in favor of TPA in the U.S. Senate.

Grassley released a statement expressing disappointment that TAA did not pass in the House.

This is a bad day for those of us who care about creating new opportunities for American workers through trade expansion.  The Democrats’ logic in killing a program they created and have ‘stood by for four decades,’ as The New York Times put it, is hard to see.  New markets are coming, whether Trade Promotion Authority comes or not.  Iowa is an exporting state, like a lot of others.  Our farmers and businesses are looking for new export markets all the time.  Trade Promotion Authority is just the process that makes it easier to enter new trade agreements and gain better access to consumers around the world.  Maintaining the status quo doesn’t help anybody.  The House Democrats say they want a better deal for America’s workers, but right now, there’s no deal.  The President needs to be more persuasive with his fellow Democrats if he wants trade expansion as one of his achievements.

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