Congresswoman Noem: Setting the Record Straight on TPA

from Congresswoman Kristi Noem:

noem press header

Setting the Record Straight on TPA


First and foremost, Washington uses far too many abbreviations and they can get misconstrued, so let’s start with some definitions…


TPA = Trade Promotion Authority.  This is what the U.S. House is expected to vote on this Friday.  It defines congressional objectives and priorities for the administration to follow when negotiating trade agreements (more on this below).  TPA is not a new power being sought by the President. In fact, nearly every president since FDR has had TPA.  The legislative text for TPA is available here.


TPP = Trans Pacific Partnership.  This is the name of a trade agreement that the U.S. is negotiating with 11 other countries. The U.S. has been negotiating this since the Bush administration. There is no vote scheduled on TPP and there won’t be until all of the countries involved finalize negotiations and the public has been able to review it for at least 60 days (assuming TPA passes, that is).



There is a lot of misinformation floating around about what the U.S. House of Representatives is voting on this week.  Let’s set the record straight…


Myth:  Congress is voting this week on a trade agreement.

Fact:  This week, Congress is expected to vote on TPA – a bill that would set congressional parameters on any ongoing trade negotiations, including TPP. 

TPA is in no way a trade agreement.  Instead, TPA allows Congress to help set the rules for trade negotiations and lays out objectives of what a good trade deal looks like for America.  This helps ensure greater transparency throughout the negotiating process by empowering Congress to conduct vigorous oversight and hold the administration accountable.


Myth:  Congress will have to pass TPA to see what is in it.

Fact:  TPA’s legislative language has been publicly available for nearly two months.  You can find a copy of the bill Congress will be voting on here.

We know exactly what TPA will do and we have for quite some time.  As a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Noem helped edit the TPA bill that the House is expected to vote on this week.  On April 23 in a public hearing, she joined members of that Committee in clearing the legislative language for consideration by the full House.


Myth: TPP is being negotiated with a dangerous and unprecedented level of secrecy (and TPA lets that happen).

Fact:  While TPP negotiating documents are available to Members of Congress, they are not fully available to the general public right now because there is no finalized agreement to review.  This is common during negotiations like this.  That being said, the final text would be available online for 60 days before it’s even sent to Congress for its consideration, assuming TPA is in place. This 60-day review period is mandated by the pending TPA legislation.

It is false to say that TPP negotiations have been secretive.  The USTR and Congress have met nearly 1,700 times in the last five years to discuss TPP negotiations.  Key congressional committees – including the House Ways and Means Committee of which Rep. Noem is a member – have also received previews of various TPP proposals before the U.S. Trade Representative took them to our trading partners. 


With TPA in place, the general public will have online access to the final version of any trade agreement, including TPP, 60 days before that agreement is sent to Congress.  Earlier drafts are not made public in this way, because revealing draft proposals before a deal is struck emboldens our opposition, undermines our negotiating positions, and exposes negotiators to public scrutiny over provisions that might not even be in a final deal.  We need to keep the upper hand to get the best deal for America. 


Myth: TPA gives the President new and unlimited powers.

Fact: TPA gives Congress greater powers, while putting dozens of strict negotiating parameters on the President.

The President already has the authority to negotiate a trade agreement under the Constitution, but TPA enables Congress to be part of the process.  If TPA is established, Congress is telling the administration:  If a trade agreement is to get the privilege of an up-or-down vote in Congress, you must follow our rules and instructions, keep us in the loop, and remember that we have the last say.  As a result, Congress maintains total control over the international trade authority granted to it by Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. 


Additionally, TPA in no way obligates Congress to approve TPP or any other trade agreement.   If this administration violates the parameters we’ve set, Congress can revoke TPA.  And if he follows the parameters and we still don’t like the agreement, Congress has the power to vote it down. 


Myth: TPP is a secret backdoor to achieve the President’s political agenda.

Fact:  The TPA bill specifically bars the President from enacting any changes to U.S. law.

Many have tried to claim that TPA will allow the President to bypass Congress and use the TPP as a backdoor to lawlessly expand immigration, curtail gun rights, or restrict Internet freedom, among other things. That is false.  The Constitution is clear: only Congress can change U.S. law.  TPA further reinforces that with additional restraints on the President. 


MYTH: Trade agreements destroy U.S. jobs.

FACT: Expanding markets for American exports will fuel stronger economic growth and create jobs.

95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside our borders.  Our growth is limited if our products can’t reach those consumers on a level playing field. Trade supports 124,000 jobs in South Dakota.  It enables South Dakota to export $3.7 billion in goods and $1.3 billion in services annually through more than 970 exporters.  It has a huge impact on our economy, and with lower trade barriers, those opportunities only grow. If we don’t expand our opportunities through trade agreements, other countries (like China) will fill the void.



Still looking for more information?  Here are some helpful links.

Summary of Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015
Overview of the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015
Frequently Asked Questions
Updates to TPA in 2015
Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015
Conservative Support for TPA
Section-by-Section Summary

17 thoughts on “Congresswoman Noem: Setting the Record Straight on TPA”

  1. I’ve been reading article after article on politico and other reliable sources. My impression is that this will fast-track and require a majority vote, without amendments to something Obama is negotiating. This is not how such important business should be done. We need transparency and a through review before a vote. Didn’t the “republicans” in Washington D.C. learn anything from not being able to read Obamacare?

    1. The TPA that they’re voting on today includes a requirement that TPP has to be available to the public for 60 days before Congress can vote on it.

    2. “Didn’t the “republicans” in Washington D.C. learn anything from not being able to read Obamacare?”

      Huh? Not one Rep. voted for Obamacare.

      Whether Reps. read the Obamacare bill nor not, OBAMACARE IS THE DEM’S BABY.

      1. i’m always going to know that anyone trashing john boehner totally ignored the awesome job he did as majority leader keeping republicans in full and constant opposition to a-c-a. boehner’s acidic speech, hooted monkey-fashion by the house dems that day, was the most ringing indictment of what they were about to do that i have ever heard laid down by any republican ever. he’s my guy simply for that alone, and he’s always doing the best he can.

        1. correction: minority leader – he was minority leader that day or there’d be no a-c-a.

          1. Isn’t there someone here who thinks the ACA is wonderful and working?

            Initials may be P L.

  2. i heard noem’s conference call yesterday, and i heard paul ryan explain it all on cspan. i’m for passing this, if for no other reason, the far lefties just hate it. hate it. noem and ryan are correct, it codifies access for congress into these proceedings.

    1. i just saw the vote outcome online. what is the logic on having TAA and TPA linked? it obviously wasn’t to ensure TAA passage because that part failed. we could use TPA regardless. good lord.

  3. Of course Kristi Amnesty is all too willing to deliver more executive authority to the tyrant occupying the White House. I expect nothing less of her. A trade bill is good. A trade bill giving Obama expanded authorities is not. One wonders why he needs any support or approval anyway: he’s doing one hell of a job negotiating a nuke deal with our sworn enemies, end-running the Senate on that UN weapons treaty and allowing the EPA to run amok and myriad other royal decrees. Being a schmuck and a shill for Boehner is par for her course. But after all, she’s our hometown schmuck. That’s ok isn’t it?

    1. Why don’t people get that this bill had nothing to do with giving the President more authority? The CONSTITUTION gives the President the authority to negotiate trade agreements. This bill was Congress’ way of say “this is what we want you to negotiate”.

    2. anon 1:25pm you must be a democrat. i’ve never heard any republican call her “schmuck” or “kristi amnesty.” come back when you study up a bit more. you could be better at trolling than you are right now.

  4. Must disagree with Rep. Noem on this. The central question is: Why does President Obama want this trade deal so badly? And the answer is: It’s not a trade deal, but a way to make U.S. law subordinate to unaccountable international authority. This won’t end well.

    1. TPA is not the trade deal. TPP is. TPA allows the President to finish the trade deal, but if we don’t like what he negotiates then Congress can vote NO on TPP.

      1. Yes, I’m aware of the difference, but it’s not meaningful in any real sense because there is nothing left to negotiate on the trade deal. All that remained were pro forma votes in Congress on the way to a final approval. Thankfully, the whole mess very likely got blown up today. We’ll still trade with all the countries as before. But we won’t give away sovereignty just yet.

  5. The jackass president, speaker and McConnell all lost today. Thank the good Lord! These guys are all sell-outs. Congrats America!

  6. Obama will be more enabled to implement his agenda because sell outs like you go along to get along.

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