Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) released bipartisan, bicameral recommendations to guide trade policy in the 118th Congress. The recommendations provide a framework for rebuilding a bipartisan, pro-trade consensus within Congress.
“The economic growth enabled by freer trade is now in peril,” the members of Congress say in their recommendations. “In 2016, Executive Branch support for trade liberalization plummeted as trade protection surged in political popularity on the left and the right. Both of us were outspoken critics of the trend toward protectionism and managed trade, which showers benefits on politically favored industries at the expense of all others in the economy […] Rebuilding a bipartisan pro-trade consensus is possible, but it will require leadership from Congress.”
“It’s time that Congress steps up to the plate and works together to use the powers granted by our Constitution to collaboratively shape U.S. trade policy,” said Rep. Ron Kind. “The U.S. can’t afford to walk away from the global stage and cede leadership in the growing global economy. The 118th Congress should work together on a bipartisan consensus to create trade policies that open new markets for American farmers, workers, and businesses. Doing so will create jobs, raise environmental and labor standards, and reinforce America’s standing in the world.”
“Personal freedom is the centerpiece of the American experiment. Inherently, personal freedom includes economic freedom and the right to freely exchange goods across national barriers,” said Sen. Pat Toomey. “It is no coincidence that over recent generations, American global leadership, hand-in-hand with freer trade, has consistently fostered economic growth, raised the standard of living, and helped lift families out of poverty. During our years of service in Congress, we have not agreed on every trade issue. But we both agree on the importance of pro-trade policies to lowering prices for consumers and businesses, opening up export markets to American goods and services, and deepening our security alliances with other nations. It is time for Congress to right the ship on trade policy. Instead of throwing rocks in our own harbors, we should be focused on lifting all boats. We believe this set of bipartisan recommendations is a good place to start.”
Overview of Trade Policy Recommendations:
1. Aggressively Work to Conclude Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements—inclusive of Market Access—with U.S. Allies; Reject So-Called “Sole Executive Agreements”
Congress should direct the Biden Administration to pursue substantive free trade agreement negotiations that maximize market access by mutually cutting tariffs. Further, these agreements must be approved by Congress.
2. Clarify the Legal Process for Withdrawal from Free Trade Agreements
No president should be able to hold Congress hostage by threatening to terminate U.S. participation in a congressionally approved trade agreement. Congress should pass legislation that clarifies the president has no such power and creates a formal process for Congress to vote on whether the U.S. may exit an agreement.
3. Renew & Strengthen Trade Promotion Authority
Congress should renew and improve Trade Promotion Authority by updating negotiating objectives and incorporating procedural mechanisms that protect Congress’s constitutional mandate over trade policy.
4. Rein in Executive Abuse of Tariff Authorities, including Section 232
Congress should pass the Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act (S. 2934/H.R. 8666), which would reassert congressional authority over tariff policy and prevent Section 232 from being abused by presidents of either party.
5. Support Efforts to Positively Reform the World Trade Organization; Reaffirm the United States’ Commitment to the WTO
Congress should support U.S. participation in the WTO and continue efforts to reform the WTO’s broken dispute settlement system, ensure fair application of special and differential treatment rules, and update WTO rules to be suitable for free and open economies in the 21st century.
Representative Kind and Senator Toomey have previously worked together to advance free trade policies, most notably through the Bicameral Congressional Trade Authority Act (S. 2934/H.R. 8666), proposed legislation that would reform Section 232 by reasserting the constitutional responsibility of Congress over tariff policy.
To read the full set of recommendations, click here.