Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, secured an agreement from House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., to add new trade negotiation objectives to the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act that seek to ensure that trade deals will not change U.S. immigration law or expand access to visas. However this immigration "fix" does not allay the concerns of other Republicans who say the bill, which is separate from Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation, may not be signed into law and worry that a trade "living agreement' can be changed without recourse after congressional consideration. The measure will get a House floor vote on Friday after Members vote on TPA.
Rep. King asked Rep. Ryan to add language to TPA stating “None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to negotiate or finalize a trade agreement that includes provisions relating to visas issued under section 101(a)(15) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C 1101(a)(15).”
Rep. Ryan responded saying he would add that language to a separate bill along with language offered Senators Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Ted Cruz, R-Tex., during Senate TPA consideration. The Senators’ language states that nothing in the Trade Act of 2015 or in any trade agreement subject to the Act "shall alter or affect any law, regulation, or policy relating to immigration." Rep. Ryan said the Hatch-Cruz language would trigger him to introduce a House Ways and Means resolution striking any trade deal that includes immigration "obligations."
Rep. Ryan's decision to place the "fix" in separate legislation raises a red flag for those who say the so-called Customs bill may not pass the Senate or get signed into law. Even if the language is enacted, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) -- commonly considered to be the deal-in-waiting under TPA -- reportedly does not include immigration "obligations," just discretion to increase immigration numbers. Therefore, Rep. Ryan's promise might not be triggered under the TPP. Finally, the TPP is reportedly a “living agreement” that can be changed after passage by Congress. It would allow a president to, for example, negotiate increases in guest worker visas after passage and Congress would have no authority to overturn the subsequent deal.
Read more in The Washington Times.
Updated: Thu, Jun 8th 2017 @ 3:33pm EDT