Washington, D.C. – House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA-23) spoke today on the House floor in support of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) so that America’s businesses and workers can achieve greater opportunity by remaining a leader in the global economy.
McCarthy’s full remarks are below, or watch them online here.
“I thank the gentleman for yielding. Before I move forward, I want to thank the gentleman. He has shown true leadership in working with everybody in this House. Anytime you take up a large piece of legislation, there are concerns. I have never seen another member of this House sit with more meetings, more concerns, and try to find a solution. And I thank the Chairman for that work.
“Mr. Speaker, earlier this year when I was headed home to California from DC one weekend, I saw something very troubling—but it was something we can actually solve for the future today. You see, it was February and there was a labor dispute. It was a shut down on our ports on the West Coast.
“So as the plane descended, instead of seeing the beaches stretched throughout California or the Santa Monica Mountains, my attention was drawn to the number of ships just sitting idle in the ocean and the number of ships that were just sitting in the port. You see, the docks were shut down and our economy was halted.
“When Americans cannot have their products moved to willing buyers, the men and women who were part of that creation do not receive the rewards of their efforts. And in California, we cannot afford to waste any of our resources—especially what we have short supply of—water.
“So when trade was shutdown, the food that was produced throughout the Central Valley would just rot on the docks. But what was most interesting to me, Mr. Speaker, I remember a phone call I got just the weekend after. It was the President of the Republican freshman class here. He had just done a town hall—and he’s from Colorado. He said, ‘Mr. Leader, I got a big issue in Colorado. The ports of the West Coast are shut down. You see, my small businesses are hurt by that. They’re hurt when we’re not able to have trade.’
“I remember a big bipartisan press conference we had—Republicans and Democrats alike—the largest one I’ve ever been a part of in the press room, talking about the ports being shut down, because every single one of their districts were affected—especially the small businesses.
“When we cannot trade, our economy suffers. Our way of life suffers. In fact, during the same period of this crippling shutdown, our economy actually shrunk. Today what we’re talking about on the floor—Trade Promotion Authority—it allows us to get to an agreement. You know, we have not had it for a few years.
“So what’s happened around the world while the rest of America sat idle? There have been one hundred trade agreements. One hundred trade agreements around the world that we would want more of our small businesses to be a part of. And do you know how many we were a part of during this time? Zero. Because we did not have TPA.
“You know, trade is the difference between rotting produce on the harbor docks and sending California goods around the world. Trade is the difference between times of prosperity and times of stagnation.
“We have a unique opportunity today. It’s not a trade agreement, it’s an opportunity—an opportunity that will empower each and every member of this floor to have input, to have transparency. But what’s more important is to empower every single American to make sure they’re now at the table—that when the next trade agreement between countries happens, America won’t be left out. America can lead once more.
“I yield back.”