up pressure for fast-track trade authority
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[July 18, 2014]
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Some
Republican lawmakers on Thursday threatened to withhold support for a
Pacific trade pact unless Congress first passes legislation to ensure
any deal will go to Congress for an up or down vote, without amendments.
In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, the 23
Republican members of the House panel with jurisdiction over trade
said Congress would not approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
the United States is negotiating with 11 other countries if it did
not meet lawmakers' goals.
So-called trade promotion authority (TPA) allows lawmakers to set
priorities for trade deals and means Congress in return votes yes or
no on agreements.
A bipartisan bill was introduced to Congress in January, but has
since stalled given a lack of enthusiasm among House Democrats in
the lead-up to Congressional elections in November.
"Because of the critical importance of TPA in ensuring a successful
outcome in the TPP negotiations, we will not support TPP if the
agreement, even an agreement in principle, is completed before TPA
is enacted," the lawmakers, all members of the House Ways and Means
Committee, said in the letter.
Republicans are generally seen as more supportive of trade than
Democrats, given concerns from some in the party's union support
base about the impact of trade deals on jobs.
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U.S. trade officials have repeatedly said they are ready to work
with Congress to pass TPA. But some Republicans have called for
President Barack Obama to do more to push the need for fast-track
authority to increase support among Democrats.
Obama has said he hopes to have an agreement on TPP ready by the
time of an Asia-Pacific leaders' meeting in November, just after the
U.S. mid-term elections.
(Reporting by Krista Hughes; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)
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