WASHINGTON — Last night, House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) went On the Record with Fox News Channel’s Greta Van Susteren to layout the conservative case for why Congress needs to enact trade promotion authority (TPA). Excerpts from the interview follow.
TPA is not ‘fast track.’ It’s slow-track.
“We’re happy that [the President] is embracing our principles and policies. This is a trade procedure. This just determines how does an administration go about getting a trade agreement and how does Congress consider it. It’s really sort of the opposite of the old ‘fast track.’ It’s slow track. We wanted more accountability, more transparency, so that we as legislators can see what’s going on. We can help determine how these trade agreements come out, and then the public needs to be able to see what’s in these agreements, and then Congress retains veto authority over these agreements, and only Congress makes a decision as to whether or not they go into force.”
Doing it the right way, adhering to the Constitution.
“[What] we’re trying to do . . . is make sure that Congress is involved in the front end, so we determine what is in a trade agreement or what is not. We make sure that we have access to all the negotiating documents—which is not the case right now during this process—and then, when there is an agreement, that it’s made public for 60 days so that the public can see what’s in an agreement. And then Congress makes a determination as to whether or not we want to accept or disapprove of a trade agreement . . . We think this is a good way of containing the executive branch and making sure that we can advance the cause of opening markets and creating jobs. This is really all about getting economic growth and jobs, but doing it the right way, to adhere to the Constitution.”
On our terms
“If [Obama] wants to get anything done, it’s going to have to be on our terms. And he does want to get a trade agreement done. And if he does, then it has to be done on our terms, as Republicans, and these are our terms . . . We want to get a trade agreement so that we can open up markets to our products, so we can make and grow more things in America and sell them overseas, and to create more jobs and get faster economic growth. Jobs based on trade pay more, and we want more of that.”
Restoring transparency, accountability
“Imagine if we had Trade Promotion Authority in place with Iran. If we had this kind of power with his Iranian negotiations, we would be able to see what actually the Iranians offered, what we, the Americans, offered; we could go to these negotiations, as members of Congress; and then, when an agreement is reached—but before it is signed—it’s made public for 60 days, and then it can’t take effect until Congress approves it. If only we had this power of Trade Promotion Authority for his negotiations with Iran. So, what we think we’re doing here is restoring transparency, accountability, and getting the legislative branch more in charge of this process, instead of, like you say, just waiting and watching the president go do what he wants and then throwing something to Congress. That’s not how we want to do this.”