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Dear Friends,

Today, after months of careful consideration, I have decided to support granting President Obama Trade Promotion Authority, also known as TPA.

 

I have closely reviewed the TPA legislation, read the current draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement and met with constituents, environmental groups, organized labor, business, and many current and former administration officials. I also hosted several public meetings and town halls. I heard strong arguments made by people of good faith on both sides of the discussion.

 

TPA is a time-tested procedure whereby the President is empowered by Congress to negotiate trade agreements that can be submitted to congress for review and an up or down vote. By removing the possibility that Congress will retread a deal negotiated by the President, TPA elicits the best and final offers from other countries.

 

TPA is a delegation of Congressional authority, and I take all such delegations very seriously. However, this is not a new idea. It has been granted to every president, with the exception of Richard Nixon, for the past 50 years. The most recent iteration of this authority expired in 2007, and President Obama has now requested that Congress grant a renewal. It would be almost historically unprecedented if we did not extend that to him.

 

TPA opens the door to consideration of the TPP, a potential agreement between 12 Pacific rim countries representing 40% of global GDP. The TPP offers the potential for rich export opportunities and many more high-paying export-oriented jobs. It can also require the improvement of environmental and labor standards in countries where those do not exist. If TPP does those things, I’ll support it. If not, I won’t.

 

My review of the negotiating text so far indicates that the President and our negotiators have been pushing for these improvements. Approving TPA and giving President Obama’s trade policy a chance to work puts us in the best possible position to create a TPP that benefits America as well as our global trade partners.

 

Make no mistake, Connecticut is an export economy, and growing global trade and markets will help strengthen our middle class. In 2013 there were $16.4 billion in Connecticut exports. $11.9 billion, or 67.5%, of that came from the Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk metro area. To say that trade is important to our district is an understatement.

 

Critics have charged that TPA is a “secret” agreement that will be foisted on Congress at the last minute. This is untrue. Most sensitive negotiations – collective bargaining by unions, or the purchase of a home, for example – happen behind closed doors. In the case of TPP, after the negotiators reach an agreement, the deal will be made fully public online for 60 days before the President can sign it, followed by several months of review and consideration before Congress votes on it.

 

I believe in the ability of the American worker to outcompete and succeed, and that we, instead of China, should set standards and establish values. In my opinion, it is more likely that we’ll be able to achieve this goal through engagement than by walking away. TPA allows the President the opportunity to make this happen.

 

 

Sincerely,

Jim

 

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