Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and the Role of Congress in Trade Policy [August 9, 2012] [open pdf - 418KB]
"On July 1, 2007, Trade Promotion Authority (TPA--previously know[n] as fast track) expired. TPA is the authority Congress grants to the President to enter into certain reciprocal trade agreements, and to have their implementing bills considered under expedited legislative procedures, provided the President observes certain statutory obligations. TPA defines how Congress has chosen to exercise its constitutional authority over a particular aspect of trade policy, while giving the President added leverage to negotiate trade agreements by effectively assuring U.S. trade partners that final agreements will be given timely and unamended consideration. TPA reflects decades of debate, cooperation, and compromise between Congress and the executive branch in finding a pragmatic accommodation to the exercise of each branch's respective authorities. The expedited legislative procedures have not changed since first enacted into permanent law as sections 151-154 of the Trade Act of 1974. Congress, however, has required that the authority to use TPA be periodically reauthorized, and at times has chosen to revise trade negotiation objectives, the consultative mechanism, and presidential notification requirements."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33743