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June 29, 2015

Congress Sends TPA, TAA Bills To President’s Desk, But Currency Work Remains

Last Wednesday, the U.S. Senate voted 60 to 38 to renew Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which allows Congress to approve free trade deals with foreign nations on a straight majority vote without amendment. A day later, the U.S. House passed a bill, sending it to the president, which would extend Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) to U.S. workers who have been negatively affected by foreign trade. President Barack Obama is expected to sign both bills very soon, as early as this week. 

MSCI President and CEO Bob Weidner released a statement after the Senate TPA vote. Weidner said, “MSCI believes in free markets and free trade. Past trade agreements have increased U.S. exports and led to more jobs here at home. We’re pleased Congress renewed Trade Promotion Authority, which sends a message to other countries that the United States is open for business. However, Congress’s work isn’t done. Free markets require the rule of law to work. Countries that purposefully manipulate their currencies must be held accountable and the United States needs the proper checks and balances in place to make sure they are. MSCI strongly urges the House and Senate negotiators currently hammering out a final customs bill to make sure Senate-passed currency language is in that bill. This strong provision would require the Commerce Department investigate allegations of currency manipulation and consider countervailing duties to address it. Failure to enact this language would put the United States at a competitive disadvantage and erode the benefits of opening new markets to U.S. products.” 

The Senate last week approved a motion to go to conference committee on the customs bill Weidner discussed. According to the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the House is expected to pass a motion to go to conference after the July 4 recess. NAM also said those conference deliberations are expected to move quickly and that the House and Senate may each vote on the final version of the customs bill in July. 

MSCI strongly urges its members to call their representatives and senators to urge them to support the Senate currency language. Members are also encouraged to call members of the customs bill conference committee. While the House conferees have not yet been named, Senate conferees have. They are: Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT), John Cornyn (R-TX), John Thune (R-SD), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).