Mr. President, I rise in support of the nomination of Michael Froman to be the next U.S. Trade Representative.
Right now, there is a leadership vacuum in this country when it comes to international trade. That is especially true at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative.
A recent study by the Office of Personnel Management, which survey's employee satisfaction at executive branch agencies, found that USTR ranks near the bottom among small agencies in almost every category, including effective leadership.
Unfortunately, this is not a new trend--the agency has been in steady decline since 2009.
This is due both to a lack of real leadership and the fact that, with Trade Promotion Authority expired, our trade negotiators don't have the tools needed to do their job. To date, there has been no real effort by President Obama to secure TPA renewal.
While I was pleased that President Obama announced this week that the United States and the European Union will soon begin formal negotiations on a trade agreement, I was surprised and dismayed that the President did not even mention TPA once in his remarks.
This is incredible to me.
It is easy to stand up and make speeches about trade. But real progress won't come by launching initiatives and talking about them. Getting our trade agenda right requires real leadership and the ability to get the agreements negotiated and approved by Congress.
That simply won't happen without TPA.
Members of Congress have fought to fix this problem.
We pushed for a vote on TPA renewal on the Senate floor 21 months ago. Unfortunately, that effort failed, largely due to lack of support from our Senate Democratic colleagues.
To me, this shows that Presidential engagement on TPA renewal is vital. Without the President's active leadership and public support for TPA, it is hard to see how our current efforts to renew TPA can succeed.
And we must succeed.
Today, 95 percent of the world's customers live outside the U.S. They account for 92 percent of global economic growth and 80 percent of the world's purchasing power.
But the U.S. is falling behind as we fight for access to these markets. We simply cannot afford to sit back while other countries write the rules of trade to the detriment of our workers and our economy.
Throughout the process of confirming Mr. Froman, I have made it clear that I expect the next U.S. Trade Representative to share my commitment to strong intellectual property rights protection and my passionate belief in the need for the U.S. to lead in setting the rules of international trade through renewal of Trade Promotion Authority.
Mr. Froman was unequivocal, during both our confirmation hearing and in subsequent questions for the record, that he shares these goals.
As the ranking member of the Finance Committee, I plan to hold him to his word.
I also hope he will use his close relationship with the President to convince him that strong and vocal Presidential leadership on TPA will be critical to getting it done.
I plan to do all I can to help support a positive, pro-growth trade agenda.
I believe a strong vote in favor of Mr. Froman to be our next U.S. Trade Representative will be a good first step.
I have seen a lot of people come and go in this position. I can say this: I have every confidence this man is going to be an excellent leader in the position he has accepted. I hope everybody on this floor will vote for him. He is for the trade promotion authority, which any President would want because it makes it easier to approve these free-trade agreements and other agreements that really are in the best interests our country.
This man is competent, and he is highly qualified. He doesn't share my philosophy particularly, but I think he does with regard to this position. I have every confidence in him, and I hope everybody who can will vote for him.