Speaker of the House John Boehner took the floor to make the case that Congress should pass Trade Promotion Authority:
“My colleagues, we’re not here today to debate any particular trade bill. The day for that may come, and when it does, we want to make sure that agreement reflects the people’s priorities. That means more jobs, higher pay, and more opportunities for our workers, farmers, and small businesses," said Boehner, according to a transcript provided by the speaker's office.
“That’s why we want to make sure that agreement isn’t rushed, and that it isn’t kept secret. And we want to make darn sure that there’s less authority for the president and more authority for the American people.
“That’s what this bill does. It is a means to an end, and that end is more free trade that is good for our economy and our country.
"Which brings me to another priority this bill advances, and that’s American leadership. When America leads, the world is safer – for freedom, and for free enterprise. When we don’t lead, we’re allowing – and frankly, essentially inviting – China to go right on setting the rules of the world economy. And we’re keeping our workers and our products on the sidelines.
"But we’re Americans, aren’t we? We’re not a people who stand still. We don’t give in to doubt and defeatism.
"This is one of those moments when we need to remember that this country is an idea. It’s an idea of a people who choose their own destiny, and people who dare to be exceptional.
"My colleagues, you’ll recall that the Prime Minister of Japan was here earlier this spring. And during his address, which was about the need for America to lead on trade, he talked about how this is an 'awesome country.' Because here, he said, 'you just choose the best idea, no matter who the idea was from.'
"Well today the best idea is to vote yes. Not for the president, not for ourselves, but for our kids and our grandkids.
"I know some members of this body don’t like TPA. Some don’t like TAA. But today, I’m here to vote for both. Because it is the right thing to do."
There was a time when Democrats were free traders and getting trade treaties through Congress was a snap. No more. In the last quarter-century—with most Democrats having slipped into the protectionist camp—winning ratification has become difficult. Today it takes a majority of Republicans to pass a trade pact.
Republicans are being urged to support President Obama’s request for TPA so that he can complete negotiations on TPP and TTIP while pursuing other deals at the WTO. For those who do not often feast on this alphabet soup: Obama wants what we used to call fast-track authority to make a trade deal.