The House of Representatives on June 11 voted 397-32 to approve a bill to reauthorize the Generalized System of Preferences and extend through 2025 the African Growth and Opportunity Act and the trade preferences for Haiti. This bill comes on the heels of a similarly strong vote in the Senate in support of extending these trade preference programs.
The House and Senate versions differ on the issue of cost offsets, however, which means that the legislation will not become law until either the two versions are reconciled in conference or the Senate approves the House version. House leaders have pledged a quick resolution of the cost offset issue and the expectation is that a final bill will be ready to be signed by the president prior to the congressional recess in August.
David Olave, director of trade and legislative affairs for Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, notes that the trade preferences vote “was almost unanimous in both chambers and serves as a clear indication on the part of Congress about the importance that GSP, AGOA and Haiti preferences play in the American economy.” With regard to GSP, Olave indicated that “the length of the GSP is very significant, not only is Congress willing to extend the program for two and a half more years but lawmakers also included a retroactive provision that will give hundreds of companies a fresh boost of cash flow on all GSP-eligible imports starting from the time the program expired on August 1, 2013.”
The House is expected to vote June 12 on Trade Promotion Authority, Trade Adjustment Assistance and customs reauthorization legislation. While lawmakers will vote on TPA and TAA separately, the legislation will be considered under a rule that will not allow one bill to become law unless the other bill is approved as well. The House TPA and TAA bills are identical to the Senate’s and will therefore be ready for the president’s signature immediately after an affirmative vote. The House is also expected to pass the customs legislation after TPA/TAA, but due to stark differences with the Senate version it will have to go through a conference process before its final approval.