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Congressman Diane Black

Representing the 6th District of Tennessee


VIDEO: Rep. Black Makes the Conservative Case for TPA

June 11, 2015
Press Release

To watch Rep. Black's video, click HERE or the image above 

Washington, DC– Today Congressman Diane Black (R-TN-06), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, released a special video message to her constituents, highlighting the benefits of trade promotion authority (TPA) for Tennessee and explaining how this process empowers the Republican majority in Congress to set the agenda on upcoming trade agreements. A transcript of Congressman Black’s remarks is below:

Hi, I’m Congressman Diane Black. You know, when I’m home in Tennessee holding town hall meetings and touring local businesses, the topic of free trade isn’t always at the top of everyone’s list. It may not grab the same headlines as some of the other issues we deal with here in Congress, but trade impacts you and your family in very real ways.

My views on trade are shaped by my views on America. Like most Tennesseans, I still believe in something called American exceptionalism. I know that when we compete on a level playing field, and when our businesses and manufacturers are afforded access to the same markets as our competitors overseas, we can win.

In Tennessee alone, some 800,000 jobs are tied to trade. That’s not surprising when you consider that 96 percent of the consumers in today’s global economy are outside our nation’s borders. But in order to realize the full benefits of free trade, we’ve got to make sure we hold President Obama accountable for striking the best trade agreement possible.

As the Obama Administration’s unprecedented concessions to Iran and Cuba have shown us, this President isn’t much of a negotiator-in-chief.  We must ensure Congress has a strong oversight role throughout the trade discussions that are happening right now – not just a vote at the end of the process. The trade promotion authority or “TPA” legislation being debated in Congress will make that possible.

In short, TPA is a process for establishing trade agreements. It states that whenever the President reaches a trade deal, Congress will hold an up-or-down vote on the agreement – without amending it – but only if certain conditions are met.

Congress has granted nearly every president since Franklin D. Roosevelt some form of TPA because, without it, other countries simply won’t put their best offers on the table. The TPA we’re considering today, however, is unique because it empowers Congress by setting forth nearly 150 negotiating objectives that must be achieved in order to guarantee a vote in Congress. In other words, Congress is not simply letting the President set the terms of a trade deal on his own, we are driving the agenda.

Despite this, some have still claimed that TPA takes power away from Congress and hands it over to the President. Nothing could be further from the truth. Under current law, President Obama is free to negotiate trade deals as he pleases without consulting Congress – he simply has to get our signoff on the final agreement. With TPA, however, Congress has a voice throughout these discussions. That is why, when the Senate voted on TPA last month, fellow conservatives like Ted Cruz supported the measure.

Another common misconception is that TPA will pave the way for President Obama to cut a secret trade deal. This bill does just the opposite. It explicitly requires the Administration to make the text of its trade agreements public for at least sixty days before Congress even considers it for a vote.

Importantly for me, and for so many Tennesseans, TPA also strengthens agriculture. And we are, after all, the ‘agriculture and commerce’ state. Consider this – one in three farm acres nationwide is planted for export. Our farmers believe in free trade because they don’t want government barriers preventing them from selling their goods to buyers overseas who are offering a fair price. We have 13,000 farms in Tennessee’s 6th district alone! That means 13,000 opportunities for our region to benefit from TPA. 

I’ll be the first to tell you, TPA is a heavy lift here in Congress – meaningful pieces of legislation typically are. And it can’t be fully explained in a quick-sound bite or commercial, but I’ve always told you that I don’t run from the tough issues.

The bottom line is this: the United States cannot afford to sit back and let our competitors like China write the rules for global commerce. If we fail to pass this measure, we will be in a weaker position and other countries who don’t share our values will profit off of our missed opportunity.

TPA is good for jobs, good for families, and good for Tennessee. Let’s make it here and sell it there.

Thank you for listening.  


Read the full Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill HERE


Congressman Diane Black represents Tennessee’s 6th Congressional District. She has been a registered nurse for more than 40 years and serves on the House Ways and Means and Budget Committees