Background

The fate of legislation granting trade promotion authority to the president, and the two major free trade agreements with Asia-Pacific and European countries that TPA would likely be used to conclude, remains unclear after two House of Representatives votes on June 12. However, the House did approve a customs reauthorization bill, setting up a conference to resolve several differences with a similar measure passed by the Senate.

The House split a bill containing renewals of both TPA and the Trade Adjustment Assistance program and narrowly voted in favor of the TPA measure by a 219-211 vote. However, the TAA measure was then soundly rejected by a 126-302 vote. Options now reportedly include holding a second vote on TAA, possibly as early as June 16; crafting a stand-alone TPA bill that would have to pass both the House and Senate; or putting the Senate-passed TPA-TAA bill to a vote in the House.

The House did approve by a 240-190 vote a customs reauthorization measure (H.R. 1907) aimed at strengthening trade facilitation and enforcement. The Senate passed a slightly different version of this bill by a 78-20 vote on May 14. Differences on issues such as currency manipulation and duty evasion will have to be ironed out before a final bill can be sent to the White House for the president’s signature.

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