WASHINGTON — Today, First District Congressman and House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan delivered the following floor statement in support of H.R. 1314, the Trade Act of 2015.
"Mr. Speaker, the question before us today is pretty simple. Is America going to shape the global economy? Or is it going to shape us?
"Mr. Speaker, 95 percent of the world’s consumers—they don’t in the United States. They live in other countries. So if we want to create jobs in America, we need to make more things here and sell them over there.
"In fact, one out of every five American jobs already depends on trade. And that’s a good thing. Because they pay more—18 percent more on average. But while the world has been moving full steam ahead, we’ve been standing still.
"We haven’t completed a trade agreement in years. There are now 262 FTAs in force all over the world. The U.S. is party to only 14. Since 2007 (when TPA expired), there have been more than 100 trade agreements signed. The U.S. is party to none.
"And in the global economy, if you’re standing still, you’re falling behind. Because other countries are negotiating trade agreements without us. They’re tearing down barriers to their products and putting up barriers to our products.
"For instance, between 2000 and 2010, the countries of East Asia negotiated 48 trade agreements. We were part of just two of them. As a result, our share of their imports fell by 42 percent. Meanwhile, China is negotiating trade agreements all over the world.
"So the rules of the global economy are being written right now. The question is, are we going to write the rules . . . or is China? That’s why H.R. 1314, the Trade Act, would establish TPA or trade promotion authority.
"There’s been a lot of confusion out there about what exactly TPA is. Let’s get right to it. TPA is not a trade deal; it’s a process for negotiating trade deals. Why should we care about a process? Because a good process will get us a good result.
"TPA will give us the leverage we need to win a fair deal for the American worker. Because when other countries know the deal they agree to is the deal Congress will vote on, they’ll put their best offers on table.
"Here’s how it works. Congress says to the President, 'When you submit a trade deal, we’ll give it an up-or-down vote on three conditions.'
"First, you’ve got to pursue specific negotiating objectives—nearly 150 of them.
"Second, you’ve got to regularly consult with Congress. Let us read the negotiating text. Give us regular briefings on the talks. Let us attend negotiating rounds.
"Third, and perhaps most importantly, this bill requires the President to make the text of every trade agreement public 60 days before he signs off on it.
"So the American people can read it themselves. This bill, for the first time ever, would put that requirement into law. And then at the end of the day, Congress gets the final say. No trade deal goes into effect unless Congress says so.
"Now I understand a lot of our members don’t trust the president. Neither do I. That’s precisely why I support this bill. TPA puts Congress in the driver’s seat.
"Mr. Speaker, the world is watching. If we don’t do this, we will send a signal to the world that America is not reliable. But if we do establish TPA, we will show the world that America is once again taking the lead."