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House Vote Leaves TPA Fate in the Balance

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The U.S. House of Representatives may have voted in favor of Trade Promotion Authority Friday, but without renewal of Trade Adjustment Assistance—which it rejected in a 126-302 vote—the fast-track bill wouldn’t be going anywhere fast.

Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), which provides aid for American workers who lose their jobs due to free trade agreements, and Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), both passed the Senate with bipartisan support.

TPA would allow the president to put trade bills before Congress for a yea or nay vote sans amendment. Passage of the fast track bill is vital to negotiating in-progress agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) the U.S. is negotiating with 11 other nations.

In his weekly address, President Obama urged the members of Congress who voted against the initiative to reconsider. Without renewal, TAA is slated to expire in a few months and, according to Obama, allowing that to happen would leave as many as 100,000 American workers “on their own.”

“For the sake of those workers, their families, and their communities, I urge those Members of Congress who voted against Trade Adjustment Assistance to reconsider, and stand up for American workers,” Obama said.

Some have said members of Congress are voting down TAA to stall TPA and get a better deal for the American people.

And in a strong statement issued Friday, the National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail trade association, said putting TPA passage in jeopardy puts politics before people.

“We are not just disappointed that isolationist fear mongering and political threats carried the day, we are genuinely concerned for the seven million restaurant and retail jobs that are supported by trade as well as the continued viability of the businesses that employ them,” NRF noted.

Senate Finance Committee chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said in a statement following Friday’s vote that a strong TPA bill is key to a healthy U.S. economy.

“Opening international markets for American exports will grow the economy and support creation of new, high-paying jobs for American workers. But for any of that to happen, TPA must be made law,” Hatch said. “Despite this latest hurdle, today’s vote shows there is bicameral support in the House and Senate for TPA, and I will continue to work with the President and my Republican and Democrat colleagues to find a way to get TPA signed into law.”

The House could hold a new vote on TAA Tuesday.

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