Coach Richins was also Lt. Col. Richins, a reservist home after a year's deployment as an Army logistics officer in Afghanistan. He was struggling with the disorientation experienced by almost all such returning vets.
WASHINGTON D.C. - Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1314, commonly referred to as TPA, by a vote of 219-211. Since 1974, TPA has been used to negotiate many trade agreements. TPA is not a trade agreement in and of itself; rather it is Congress establishing the framework by which future trade agreements must be negotiated regardless of who is in the White House. In order to force transparency and accountability, the bill includes 150 Congressional directives that the Executive branch must adhere to as it negotiates trade agreements on behalf of the United States and requires periodic reporting to Congress as to the status of trade negotiations. If the Congressional directives are not being adhered to, Congress has the ability to "switch off" TPA. Without the Congressional limitations included in the TPA legislation, any President would be free to negotiate however they choose. This bill also requires any trade deal, once finalized, to be made public for at least 60 days before Congress votes whether to approve the completed deal or not.
The bill also includes section 108, clause (a), which reaffirms U.S. sovereignty: "No provision of any trade agreement entered into under section 103(b), nor the application of any such provision to any person or circumstance, that is inconsistent with any law of the United States, any State of the United States, or any locality of the United States shall have effect." This means that no trade agreement can change our nation's laws; only Congress can. Congressman Hice released the following statement in regards to passage of the bill:
"While I believe that free trade is in our nation's best interest, yesterday I joined with the most conservative Republicans in the House and voted against the procedural rule to allow for consideration of this bill. I did so because I wanted the constraints placed on the Executive branch to be even stronger than what it is included in this legislation. Unfortunately, our efforts failed by 3 votes. Now, we are faced with voting for a TPA bill that will put 150 constraints on President Obama, as well as future occupants of the White House, or voting down the TPA bill which would result in President Obama having zero constraints as he negotiates trade deals on behalf of our nation. Because I do not trust this President, I am choosing 150 constraints over zero. The bottom line is that he cannot have free reign to negotiate on behalf of our country.
I also want to ensure that Georgia has a strong economy that can compete globally. In Georgia, one in every five jobs is directly tied to trade. Additionally, the Port of Savannah will open up new trade opportunities for our great State as trade creates an additional 1.2 million Georgia jobs.
Furthermore, voting for TPA is directly tied to ensuring a strong national defense, no matter who is in the White House. Though it is no secret that I do not trust this Administration, it is important for the United States to strengthen our economic ties with our allies and new markets so that we have more strategic partners in the Global War on Terror. Lastly, I was pleased that the House voted to include additional safeguards so that no changes to our immigration or environmental laws can be made in future trade agreements."