House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) said this week that Congress could turn down the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)  free trade agreement currently being negotiated if President Obama wraps up talks on the proposed pact without first winning trade promotion authority (TPA), also known as “fast track” trade legislation.  TPA facilitates passage of trade pacts in Congress by guaranteeing they can not be amended and only an up or down vote is possible.

Rep. Camp, in a major trade policy speech in Washington, D.C., to the Global Business Dialogue, a trade policy group, said  “TPA must be considered before finalizing any major trade agreements, such as TPP.  To do otherwise, creates the very real risk that Congress will not and should not support the trade agreement.”  The proposed pact would be the biggest U.S. free trade agreement to date, encompassing the United States, Canada, Japan, Vietnam, and eight other countries in the Asia-Pacific.

Camp’s comments reflect increasing GOP concern that Obama will finish the agreement without first obtaining TPA.  “I want to be very clear: If the administration wants my support for TPP, it will ensure we have TPA before concluding TPP. And if it wants my support for TPA, it will not conclude TPP first,” Camp said. “To those who may discount my view, I can assure you that it is shared by my Ways and Means colleagues, our leadership, and a majority of members of Congress.” Camp said Congress would view Obama concluding a major trade agreement without TPA “as trumping congressional prerogatives and negotiating objectives and ignoring its Constitutional role.”

The White House has been pushing to finish the TPP agreement by the end of the year, with another chief negotiators meeting set for early July in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Camp, who is retiring at the end of the year, also argued other countries will not put their best offers on the table unless the White House has TPA, and Congress can not pass the legislation unless Obama gets more directly involved to persuade Democrats to support the measure.

Camp also expressed frustration with Japan, which joined the four-year-old TPP talks last year after promising it would meet the high standards envisioned for the agreement, saying that the time has come to consider kicking Japan out of TPP talks because of its resistance to removing barriers to its automobile and agricultural markets.

I’m deeply concerned that Japan is stubbornly refusing to remove all of its severe restrictions that prevent our access to its agriculture and auto markets,” he said, adding the time had come to consider moving on – at least temporarily – without Tokyo’s involvement in the talks. “We need to consider how to conclude TPP and arrange for that country to join when they’re ready to make the necessary commitments.”

The White House has been reluctant to kick Japan out of the talks, saying it remains optimistic of negotiating a comprehensive agreement that will win the support of the business community and Congress.