During Saturday's GOP Weekly address, Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) called on Congress to pass Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). The move would state overall trade negotiating objectives of the United States while giving President Obama special authority to finish negotiating one of the world’s largest trade accords. During his address, he stated that “trade promotion authority does not give any president any new authority to expand immigration or change other laws without the approval of the Congress of the United States”
Sen. Isakson said in his address:
Its passage will help promote American workers and American jobs by setting out clear objectives — mandated by Congress — that the president must achieve in international trade agreements
The legislation will go for six years and requires presidents of either party to consult with Congress before final approval of any agreement.
Congress still has the final say in approving a trade agreement.
And I want to be very clear — this legislation does not guarantee approval of any proposed trade agreement.
Every trade agreement will still be scrutinized by your representatives and by the senators in Congress.
Republicans will not support any attempt to override U.S. law by sneaking extra provisions into any trade agreement.
That includes provisions on immigration policies.
Trade promotion authority does not give any president any new authority to expand immigration or change other laws without the approval of the Congress of the United States.
However, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) disagrees with this assertion. In a "critical alert" released yesterday, Sen. Sessions raised concerns about TPA as it relates to immigration:
There are numerous ways TPA could facilitate immigration increases above current law—and precious few ways anyone in Congress could stop its happening. For instance: language could be included or added into the TPP, as well as any future trade deal submitted for fast-track consideration in the next 6 years, with the clear intent to facilitate or enable the movement of foreign workers and employees into the United States (including intracompany transfers), and there would be no capacity for lawmakers to strike the offending provision.
The statement continues:
Stating that “TPP contains no change to immigration law” is a semantic rather than a factual argument. Language already present in both TPA and TPP provide the basis for admitting more foreign workers, and for longer periods of time, and language could later be added to TPP or any future trade deal to further increase such admissions.
Sen. Sessions concluded, asking President Obama to rewrite the deal making it simpler and more transparent:
Our government must defend the legitimate interests of American workers and American manufacturing on the world stage. The time when this nation can suffer the loss of a single job as a result of a poor trade agreement is over.
The American people want us to slow down a bit. The rapid pace of immigration and globalization has placed enormous pressures on working Americans. Lower-cost labor and lower-cost goods from countries with less per-person wealth have rushed into our marketplace, lowering American wages and employment. The public has grown increasingly skeptical of these elaborate proposals, stitched together in secret, and rushed to passage on the solemn promises of their promoters. Too often, these schemes collapse under their own weight. Our job is to raise our own standard of living here in America, not to lower our standard of living to achieve greater parity with the rest of the world. If we want an international trade deal that advances the interests of our own people, then perhaps we don't need a 'fast-track' but a regular track: where the president sends us any proposal he deems worthy and we review it on its own merits.
Updated: Mon, May 18th 2015 @ 10:45am EDT