Fast-Track Legislative Procedures for Trade Agreements: The Great Debate of 1991

The last debate on whether or not to grant the President authority to negotiate trade agreements with "fast-track" legislative procedures was in 1991. Many issues that were raised in that debate are the same as those still being considered, including the role of labor and the environment in trade negotiations and whether legislation to implement trade agreements should be amendable. The result of the debate in 1991 was that Congress allowed the President an extension of negotiating authority with fast-track legislative procedures. At the same time, however, it gave strong directives to the Administration on issues to be addressed in the negotiations and threatened to withdraw the fast-track procedures if its directives were not followed.