Next Congress must confront China, strengthen US global leadership without harming American businesses
Congress on Friday passed two bills that will move the American political and economic landscape in unprecedented ways by dramatically expanding presidential authority and by imposing unprecedented conditions on trade deals.
Both bills now enter the Senate, which could either act on them or ignore them altogether.
The House is expected to vote early next week on The Trade Act of 2015, and the Senate could pass the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) Act as early as next Friday.
Both are important, but the real test comes next Monday, when the full House of Representatives has the opportunity to decide whether to vote on one or both or pass one or the other.
It could not be clearer that both bills should be passed to allow for a truly comprehensive trade liberalization bill, which would also protect the United States from the damaging impact of tariffs on U.S. exporters.
There is consensus that China is our No. 1 trade foe.
Yet a complete trade policy will require Congress to make a choice between two competing approaches:
The more aggressive approach of using force to stop China from stealing American intellectual property and technology.
A moderate approach that seeks a comprehensive trade agreement without significant restrictions on free trade.
To get to the second option, Congress must pass the current House bill.
To get to the first option, Congress has to reject the current House bill and pass the more moderate House version of TPA.
Now, we can debate how much progress TPA will bring.
The most optimistic view is that TPA will substantially expand the White House’s trade negotiating power.
The most cautious view is that it will serve to slow down the process of trade liberalization.
The choice is clear.
But the choice is not between the House and Senate.
Congress should reject the House bill and pass the House version of TPA.
The House’s version of TPA was based on a reasonable consensus about free trade and a comprehensive trade agreement that would have eliminated all tariffs and quotas, protected intellectual property, and