Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and the Role of Congress in Trade Policy [August 2, 2013] [open pdf - 432KB]
"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. Members of Congress have advocated for renewal of TPA and on July 30, 2013, President Obama requested in a speech that Congress provide this renewed authority in light of four trade agreements currently being negotiated: 1) the multilateral Doha Development Round of the World Trade Organization (WTO); 2) the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP); 3) the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP); and 4) the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA). President Obama also linked renewal of TPA and trade adjustment assistance (TAA) programs, which are scheduled to expire on December 31, 2013. […] Although there appears to be support for renewal of TPA in Congress, the details of the legislation are likely to be subject to considerable debate, including the specific treatment of any related TAA program reauthorization. This report presents background and analysis on the development of TPA, a summary of the major provisions under the expired authority, and a discussion of the issues that have arisen in the debate over TPA renewal. It also explores some of the policy options available to Congress."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33743