The House Ways and Means Committee has joined with the Senate Finance Committee in passing legislation to authorize the Trade Promotion Authority.
The House Committee approved the bill on Thursday evening with a 25 to 13 vote. The Senate Finance Committee approved the bill on Wednesday with a 20 to 6 vote.
The bill, the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015, approves Trade Promotion Authority. TPA limits Congress to only and up or down vote on trade deals, and the bill requires the White House to be fully transparent with what's included in the agreements, and consult with Congress throughout the negotiation process.
Ag groups, including the American Soybean Association, are now calling on both chambers to pass the bill and pave the way for key trade agreements now under negotiation.
"Agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership and others that expand market access are of vast importance to American soybean farmers as we look to maintain our position at the vanguard of the world's agricultural trade, however we can't conclude agreements without trade promotion authority. That's always been step one," Wade Cowan, ASA president, said in a Friday morning statement.
The bill was introduced last week by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., as well as House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis.
Now that the measure has passed through both Senate and House committees, it will head to the floors of both chambers potentially as early as next month, per indications from House and Senate leadership, ASA said.
"This bill is something that both sides of the aisle have come together on," Cowan said. "It's a bipartisan bill that hears the concerns of Right and Left, of multiple industries and of multiple constituencies, including our nation's soybean farmers.
"It gives USTR the bandwidth it needs to get the best deal possible for American farmers and businesses, and it provides Congress the involvement and oversight it needs to ensure each deal works for everyone. It is a piece of legislation that both the Senate and the House should take up and pass as quickly as possible," he said.