‘TPA Reaffirms Congress’s Overall Constitutional Role’ On Trade

New Trade Promotion Authority Bill ‘Expands On Administration Transparency And Consultation Obligations’

‘The Congress Shall Have Power … To Regulate Commerce With Foreign Nations’

U.S. CONSTITUTION: “The Congress shall have Power … To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations…” (U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Sec. 8)

CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE: “…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… In the 1960s, nontariff barriers became part of trade negotiations. Congress found it necessary to alter the delegated RTAA tariff authority to require implementing legislation to authorize changes in U.S. law necessary to meet these new obligations. …Congress adopted [trade promotion authority] in the Trade Act of 1974...” (“Trade Promotion Authority (TPA),” Congressional Research Service, 4/17/15)

  • Trade Promotion Authority was created, in part, because “…many in Congress concluded that the President had exceeded the [tariff] authority delegated to him. In fact, Congress passed a resolution in 1966 instructing the Johnson Administration against negotiating ‘nontariff commitments.’ … Concern over presidential encroachment on its legislative authority prompted Congress to seek a legislative remedy. … the Trade Act of 1974…” (“Trade Promotion Authority (TPA),” Congressional Research Service, 4/17/15)

U.S. TRADE REPRESENTATIVE: “Since 1974, Congress has enacted TPA legislation that defines U.S. negotiating objectives and priorities for trade agreements and establishes consultation and notification requirements for the President to follow throughout the negotiation process.  ... TPA reaffirms Congress’s overall constitutional role in the development and oversight of U.S. trade policy.” (“Trade Promotion Authority,” U.S. Trade Representative, Accessed 4/20/15)

  • “To assure retention of its constitutional authority, Congress has included: time limits on use of the TPA; the option for Congress to disapprove an extension of those limits if the President requests one; and two separate options for Congress to deny expedited consideration of an implementing bill should Congress determine that there was inadequate consultation or progress towards negotiating objectives. Each House also retains the right to exercise its constitutional rulemaking authority to change TPA rules or override them for consideration of an implementing bill.” (“Trade Promotion Authority,” U.S. Trade Representative, Accessed 4/20/15)


Hatch / Wyden TPA ‘Expands On Administration Transparency And Consultation Obligations’

CRS: “TPA-2015 expands on Administration transparency and consultation obligations from those of previous iterations of TPA.” (“Trade Promotion Authority (TPA),” Congressional Research Service, 4/17/15)

“…inclusion of a procedure to give Congress a process to revoke fast-track procedures if the White House fails to meet TPA requirements... Essentially, it would give any member of the House or Senate — without the approval of leadership — the ability to push for removal of fast-track if they think the White House has not consulted fully with Congress.” (“Lawmakers Reach Deal To Move Obama Trade Agenda,” The Hill, 4/16/15)

  • “… provisions in the TPA bill that could make it easier to strip the ‘no amendment’ fast track protections from a trade agreement if key congressional committees decide the administration has not met negotiating objectives or has failed to consult adequately with Congress during negotiations.” (“Lawmakers Strike Deal On Fast Track Trade Bill,” Politico, 4/16/15)

“…the Hatch-Wyden compromise ensures the one thing you won’t see in these agreements is a back-room secret.” (Editorial, “A Lift For Free Trade,” The Wall Street Journal, 4/16/15)



Related Issues: Trade Promotion Authority, Free Trade, Jobs, Middle Class