Sen. Hatch: Failure to Pass TPA ‘Catastrophic for Our Country and for the World’

By Ali Meyer | April 29, 2015 | 6:16pm EDT

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)( Starr)

( - Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) touted passing Trade Promotion Authority, otherwise known as TPA, saying that failure to pass it would be “catastrophic for our country and for the world,” during an appearance at a Politico Morning Money Breakfast Briefing in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.

“Ninety-five percent of the world’s consumers live outside of the United States. Eighty percent of world trade is with these countries. There are 400 trade agreements in this world today,” said the senator. “The United States has only entered into 20 ... actually 14 - 14 trade agreements.

“As you can see, we’re hurting our own country by not getting into these trade agreements, especially when they’re willing to join with us like in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which includes 12 countries including our own, or the T-TIP which is the European Trade Agreement, which includes 29 countries, including our own. We’d be crazy not to complete this full set of trade negotiations and have Congress backing up with appropriate legislation,” he said.

Hatch also gave President Obama credit for supporting TPA and criticized Democrats for not having valuable criticisms of the measure.

“I think if we can pass TPA this year, I think that literally if we give this procedural  mechanism and tool to both the Congress and the president and the trade representative, we probably could get this resolved before the end of this year,” said Hatch.

“And if we do, this would be a tremendous step for the president. I give him a lot of credit for being willing to stand up, because he’s getting a lot of criticism from some of his Democrat friends that I think is not very good criticism under the circumstances, and here you have Orrin Hatch and the Republicans supporting the president better than the Democrats do,” Hatch added.

“It’s very beneficial to our country,” he said of the TPA. “It brings all kinds of business. It elevates our ability to do business around the world. It creates jobs. It’s a - this trade agreement would bring us into a real connection with those 11 countries over in the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and with the 28 countries over in the European T-TIP Partnership, so there really is very little argument on the other side in my opinion that really is valid. We really need to do this.”

Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.), a critic of TPP, said that there is turbulence within the Democratic Party over the measure, because it will make them lose leverage on key issues.

“I favor TPP, but it has to be the right TPP,” said the congressman. “So essentially you’re saying our power is at the end to say ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ We’ve lost our leverage on all of these key issues.

“Take state owned enterprise. It matters, and right now essentially there’s good language, but the TPA language doesn’t talk about what are going to be the exceptions,” said Levin. “So I favor TPP. I favor having instructions that lay down very clearly what needs to be done, not lose our leverage to help make that happen, because at the end ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ that gives us no leverage.

Levin was asked by the moderator about the relationship between Democrats and the president.

“[Obama] thinks Democrats should trust him to get a deal done that would be good for the U.S. economy and good for U.S. workers. Why don't you trust the president?” asked the moderator.

“It’s not a question of trust. It’s a question of being able to work with him as these unresolved issues are resolved, I mentioned them,” said Levin. “Let me go back to worker rights, because I worked on May 10, I was one of the authors on May 10 that essentially put worker rights and environmental standards into trade agreements, and we negotiated - Charlie Rangel and I actually - the Peruvian FDA, because the administration would not.

“So when people say I don't want to expand trade, I essentially negotiated the Peru FDA/ So it isn't a matter of trust, it’s a matter of having our ability to work on a partnership basis with this administration as these unresolved issues or these issues that need to be changed are worked on,” Levin added.

“And to simply say to us you can vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ at the end, that’s the main reason for all of this turbulence within the Democratic Party. We want to participate in putting together the right TPP, and my goal has always been to get - if not the majority of Democrats - a very substantial number of Democrats to have a bipartisan basis for a vote on trade. We’re not there. We need to get there, we need to get there in my judgment,” he said.

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