Trade Promotion Authority (Fast-Track Authority for Trade Agreements): Background and Developments in the 107th Congress

One of the major trade issues in the 107th Congress (2001-2002) was whether Congress would approve trade promotion authority (TPA; formerly called fast-track authority) for trade agreements. Under these provisions, Congress agrees to consider legislation to implement a trade agreement under special legislative procedures that limit debate and allow no amendment. The President is required to consult with congressional committees during negotiation and notify Congress at major stages. This report gives background on the origin of TPA/fast-track legislation, trade agreements negotiated under such legislation in the past, the lapse of legislation in 1994, and attempts at renewal in the late 1990s. The report also follows TPA/fast-track authority legislation as it developed during the 107th Congress. There were four major stages in the development of TPA legislation during the 107th Congress. First, after extensive debate on labor and the environment as trade negotiating objectives, the House passed a TPA bill ( H.R. 3005 ) by a single vote (215-214) on December 6, 2001. Second, the Senate wrapped TPA into a comprehensive trade bill ( H.R. 3009 ), with debate concentrated on health care subsidies under the trade adjustment assistance title of the bill, and approved the trade bill by a 66-30 vote on May 23, 2002. Third, the House considered a rule ( H.Res. 450 ) that included broad trade language to match the scope of the Senate-approved bill. There was partisan disagreement on using the rule as a means to approve broad trade programs, and the House approved the rule on June 26, 2002, by another one-vote margin (216-215). Fourth, after some delays, conferees filed a report on trade bill H.R. 3009 on July 26, 2002. The House and Senate approved the conference report by votes of 215-212 and 64-34 respectively just before the summer recess. The President signed the bill into law ( P.L. 107-210 ) on August 6, 2002. The TPA provisions in P.L. 107-210 cover tariff and nontariff agreements entered into before June 1, 2005 (possible 2-year extension). For expedited procedures to apply to legislation to implement a trade agreement, the agreement must "make progress" toward meeting the outlined negotiating objectives and satisfy other specified conditions. Any changes to trade remedy laws are subject to greater congressional scrutiny. The President must consult with congressional bodies, including the newly established Congressional Oversight Group. Congress can withdraw expedited procedures, if consultation requirements are not met. This report will not be updated.