Senate Cloture Vote Scheduled on Tariff Bill

By September 16, 2011Trade

Senate Majority Leader Reid filed cloture this morning on the motion to proceed on H.R. 2832, the House-passed Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) bill.  He has scheduled a cloture vote for 5:30 on Monday on the motion, which will begin the process of attaching Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) to the GSP bill.

We applaud Senator Reid’s move today – he has set in motion a process that, essentially, will end with Congress considering and approving the three long-pending Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with Colombia, Korea and Panama.

If all goes according to schedule, after several days of debate and a number of amendments, the Senate will pass the GSP/TAA bill and send it to the House. At that point, we expect that the Obama Administration will transmit the 3 pending FTAs to the House, which will – we hope – move to schedule votes on both TAA and the trade agreements.

The trade agreements will arrive in Congress under Trade Promotion Authority, which fast-tracks their movement and protects them against amendment. We would hope that by the first week of October, the House will have votes scheduled on  all four bills, and will then send the trade agreements to the Senate. We would further encourage Leaders Reid and McConnell to deploy all urgency and immediately schedule the trade agreements for a vote on the Senate floor.

Both TAA and the trade agreements have bipartisan and bicameral support. In this economic environment, it is crucial that these job-creating trade agreements be implemented as quickly as possible. The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) estimates the three FTAs will increase U.S. exports to Colombia, Korea and Panama by $13 billion annually, creating nearly 100,000 new jobs. Manufactured goods exports make up nearly two-thirds of total U.S. exports – so anything that boosts overseas sales will also boost our domestic production, output and employment.

In recent weeks President Obama, Speaker Boehner and Members of the House and Senate on both sides of the aisle have spoken urgently about the need to create jobs in America. Finally, with the imminent consideration of the long-stalled trade agenda, we’ll have some good news for America’s manufacturers and their workers. Pass the Colombia, Korea and Panama trade agreements, open those markets to American exports, and reap the benefits.

Doug Goudie is director of international trade policy, National Association of Manufacturers.

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