What is TPA? Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), previously “fast track,” is the time-limited authority that Congress uses to set trade negotiating objectives, to establish notification and consultation requirements, and to have implementing bills for certain reciprocal trade agreements considered under expedited procedures, provided certain statutory requirements are met (see Figure 1).
What is the current status of TPA? TPA expired as of July 1, 2007. On July 30, 2013, President Obama requested that Congress reauthorize TPA. Legislation for this purpose—the “Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (TPA-2015)—was introduced on April 16, 2015. Current negotiations on the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP), the Trade in Services (TISA), and the World Trade Organization (WTO) Doha Round agreements may require TPA in order to pass implementing legislation.
Why TPA? The President has the authority to negotiate international agreements, including free trade agreements (FTAs), but the Constitution gives the U.S. Congress sole authority over the regulation of foreign commerce. For 150 years, Congress exercised this authority by setting tariff rates directly. This policy changed with the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act of 1934 (RTAA), in which Congress delegated authority to the President to enter into reciprocal trade agreements that reduced tariffs within pre-approved levels, and so did not require further congressional action.
Date of Report: April 17, 2015
Order Number: IF10038
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