Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutionsby Senator Rob Portman
Posted on 2014-01-09
PORTMAN. Mr. President, I am happy to be on the floor to hear the
news from Senator Hatch and Senator Baucus that they have reached an
agreement on trade promotion authority. I wish to congratulate them on
that, working with Chairman Camp on the House side.
This is incredibly important. These two Senators have worked closely together, as Republican and Democrat, over the last few months with the administration to put in place the opportunity for American workers, American farmers, and American service providers to be able to sell their goods and their services on a level playing field by opening more markets for U.S. products. I congratulate them. It is sad to me that for the past 5 or 6 years we haven't had trade promotion authority, and without their strong efforts we still wouldn't have it today.
It has been noted that this administration, the Obama administration, is the first one since FDR not to have asked for even the ability to open these markets through what is called trade promotion authority and its predecessors until last March. So until last spring they hadn't even asked for it. They did ask for it, and thanks to the hard work of these two Senators and Congressman Camp, we are now going to have that opportunity. This gives our workers, our farmers, and our service providers the ability to access these markets Senator Baucus and Senator Hatch spoke about.
It is critical to economic growth. If we look at the growth in the last two or three recoveries, much of it was because of expanding exports. We all believe the current level of economic growth is disappointing. It is anemic growth. We are looking at long-term unemployment being at historic levels, as we have spoken about on the floor all week. One solution, clearly, is for the United States to do more exporting, and we can't do that without trade promotion authority.
I speak as a former U.S. Trade Representative who had the honor of traveling the world representing our great country. I will tell my colleagues, when we got down to the negotiating across the table with another country in terms of how to knock down both tariff and nontariff barriers to trade, if they didn't know there was an ability with an up- or-down vote to get that trade agreement done in the U.S. Congress with something like trade promotion authority, they would not have put their last and best offer on the table. That is a reality.
Our system is different from most systems in countries around the world. We have to have trade promotion authority--that has been our experience--in order to get these trade agreements done to help knock down barriers to the people in the United States who make the best products in the world, who provide the best services in the world and are just looking for a fair shake and a level playing field.
So these two Senators, by doing this today, have opened up the possibility now for us to have trade agreements that give us the opportunity to grow our economy and create, as they both said, good- paying jobs and good benefits, and I congratulate them for that.