McConnell Outlines Path Forward on Trade

WASHINGTON, D.C.U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell made the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding the way forward on trade:

“Following today’s encouraging vote in the House, I’d like to update the Senate on where we stand with trade.

“First, a brief look back to how we got where we are today.

“Back in April, the Finance Committee came together to advance four trade bills on a big bipartisan vote

“It was everyone’s goal then to consider all of those bills and to begin the process of passing this significant trade agenda. It remains everyone’s goal now.

“That’s a point that’s been proven many times over.

“When our Democratic colleagues insisted on tying TAA to TPA, it was difficult for most on my side to swallow. Many in my conference oppose TAA. But with the larger goal in mind — and understanding that for my friends on the other side, TAA has often ridden alongside TPA — we put the two policies together. This was not an easy lift for us, but in the interest of moving forward, we compromised.

“The process was not easy. We had a few close calls. We even worked through a filibuster to address our colleagues’ concerns.

“But all the hard work paid off. It eventually led to a good result at the end of last month, a 62 to 37 vote in favor of more opportunities for American paychecks, for American workers and farmers, and for the American economy.

“Unfortunately though, as we all know now, that was not to be the end of the Senate’s role in this process. That’s okay. Not every plan turns out perfectly every time. But the point is that you don’t give up.

“The American people didn’t send us here to sulk, but to work through tough problems. So that’s what we’re going to do.

“Here’s what it’s going to take.

“One, working together toward the shared goal of a win for the American people.

“Two, trusting each other to get there.

“I think we can.

“So here are the next steps.

“In the judgement of members of both parties in the House and the Senate, our best way forward now is to consider TPA and TAA separately.

“That means TAA will come second after TPA, but the votes will be there to pass it — reluctantly, not happily, but they will be there if it means getting something far more important accomplished for the American people.

“To that end, I just filed cloture on the motion to concur with the House-passed TPA bill.

“I then filed cloture on the AGOA and Preferences bill — with an amendment that adds in TAA.

“This puts the Senate on a procedural glide-path to consider and then pass the TPA bill, the AGOA and Preferences bill, and TAA.

“And so, assuming everyone has a little faith and votes the same way they just did a few weeks ago, we’ll be able to get all of these bills to the President soon.

“I know there’s a fourth bill too, the Customs bill. Given the complex and thorny procedural processes at work here, we will have to turn to that one as soon as we’re able — but we will turn to it. It will go to a conference committee and then return to the Senate floor where it too will be passed and sent to the White House.

“I know it’s hard to do, but if we step back a few paces and recall what we were all asking for a few weeks ago, we should be able to take some satisfaction in this. It means that, before July 4, the President will have signed TPA, TAA, and AGOA and Preferences, and that we will be well on our way toward enactment of a robust Customs package. That would be quite an achievement.

“All it’s going to take is some hard work and some faith in one another.”

Related Issues: Trade Promotion Authority, Economy, Middle Class, TPP, Jobs