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Orrin H.
Republican UT

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  • Ensuring Tax Exempt Organizations the Right to Appeal Act—Motion to Proceed—Continued

    by Senator Orrin G. Hatch

    Posted on 2015-05-13

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    HATCH. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the order for the quorum call be rescinded.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. Without objection, it is so ordered.

    Mr. HATCH. Mr. President, we have all now heard the good news with regard to our ongoing efforts to advance U.S. trade policy. We are talking about trillions of dollars over the years. After a lot of discussion and back and forth, we have come to an agreement on a path forward. I am very happy to say that finally, at long last, common sense has prevailed.

    On April 22, the Senate Finance Committee reported four separate trade bills--a bill to renew trade promotion authority, or TPA; another to reauthorize trade adjustment assistance, or TAA; a trade preferences bill; and a Customs and Enforcement bill.

    Throughout the recent discussion on trade policy, the TPA bill has gotten most of the attention. That makes sense. After all, it is President Obama's top legislative priority. If we could get it passed, its impact would be felt immediately. And he is right on that, President Obama is right on this issue, and I am happy to help him get this through, if we can.

    The TAA bill--the trade adjustment assistance bill--although I am not ecstatic to admit it, is part of the effort. We have known from the outset that in order to ensure passage of TPA, that TAA must move along with it. That is a concession we were always willing to make, although most of us on the Republican side are not all that crazy about TAA and many will vote against it, including me. TAA is trade adjustment assistance, and that is what the union movement has insisted on. Democrats are unanimously in favor of it. Republicans are not ecstatic about it at all. In fact, we think it is a waste in many ways, but it is the price of doing business on TPA.

    The path to the other two bills, the preferences bill and the Customs bill, has always been a bit more uncertain, but once again, we knew that from the beginning.

    I am pleased to say that we have reached an agreement that will allow us to consider and hopefully pass all four of the Finance Committee trade bills in relatively short order. Under the agreement, the Senate will vote tomorrow on our Customs bill as well as our trade preferences bill. This will pave the way for another cloture vote on the motion to proceed to a vehicle to move TPA and TAA.

    Although I am wary of counting my proverbial chickens before they are hatched--no pun intended--I expect we will get a strong bipartisan vote in favor of finally beginning the debate on these important bills, and we should.

    This is, in my opinion, the best of all possible outcomes. This is what Republicans have been working toward all along--and, I might add, some courageous Democrats as well. While we could not and still cannot guarantee that all four bills will become law, we certainly want to see the Customs and preferences bills pass the Senate. I am a coauthor of both of those bills. They are high priorities for me. It was never my intention to let them wither on the legislative calendar. I was always going to do everything in my power to help move them forward. That is why at the Finance Committee markup I committed to work with my colleagues to try to get all four of these bills across the finish line. That is the agreement which was made, and as of right now, it appears we will be able to make good on that commitment on a much shorter timeline than I think any of us expected.

    Yesterday was a difficult day. I think it was pretty obvious to any observer that I was more than a little frustrated. Today, I am very glad to see that my colleagues have recognized our desire to move all of these important bills and that they have agreed with us on a workable path forward. But now is not the time to celebrate. While this agreement solves a temporary procedural issue, now is when the real work begins.

    As I mentioned yesterday, it has been years--decades even--since we have had a real debate over U.S. trade policy here on the Senate floor, and I am quite certain we have a spirited debate ahead of us. I am looking forward to a fair and open discussion of all of these important issues. It is high time we let this debate move forward. Indeed, it is what the American people deserve.

    I am glad we now have a pathway forward. This is something into which the President has put an awful lot of effort. He has an excellent Trade Representative in Michael Froman, one of the best Trade Representatives we could possibly have, a very bright man. He has worked very hard on these trade deals. They won't come to fruition until we pass trade promotion authority. Keep in mind that is the procedural mechanism which will enable the administration to get final approvals by these 11 countries in Asia and the 28 countries in Europe, plus ours.

    This is very important, and I for one am very pleased that we have been able to get this through the Senate Finance Committee. That couldn't have happened without the help of Democrats on the other side and in particular Senator Wyden. We did part ways in this fiasco that occurred, but hopefully we are back together now.

    All I can say is that this is one of the most important bills in this President's tenure, and it is a bill that could benefit every State in this Union and especially my State of Utah, where we did $7 billion in foreign trade last year alone. For a State our size--3 million people-- that is pretty good, but I expect us to do a lot better under trade promotion authority.

    Hopefully, the final agreements that are made in TPP and TTIP will be agreements that everybody can agree will help our country move forward. It will help us to have greater relations with other countries throughout the world. It will help us to encourage our own industries to be improve and be the best in the world and will be one of those approaches that literally will shape the world at large.

    TPA is an important bill. I hope we can pass it. I believe we will. As I have said, I am not a fan of the TAA bill and never will be, but we understand why that has to pass as well--because the bipartisan coalition that supports it would probably not permit trade promotion authority without it.

    All I can say is that I have faith that we have arrived and resolved this impasse, and I hope that in the coming days we will be able to pass trade promotion authority and really put this country back on the trade path which it really deserves to be on and on which the rest of the world will be pleased to have us, where we can have greater cooperation and greater friendships and greater feelings throughout the world than we have right now.

    With that, Mr. President, I suggest the absence of a quorum.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.

    The senior assistant legislative clerk proceeded to call the roll.

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