Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and the Role of Congress in Trade Policy [January 14, 2013] [open pdf - 433KB]
"On July 1, 2007, Trade Promotion Authority (TPA--previously known 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. […] Should Congress decide to consider reauthorizing TPA, it has many options including, but not limited to (1) taking no action; (2) extending temporarily; (3) revising and renewing; or (4) granting permanent authority. How this issue evolves also depends on a host of political and economic variables, including congressional action on reinvigorating a 'political compact' that sits at the center of a well-functioning TPA process."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33743