Trade Promotion Authority (TPA)
What is the TPA?
Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) is a legislative tool to advance trade negotiations, thereby enabling the United States to expand its competitive market opportunities and giving U.S. businesses the ability to succeed in the global market. It is a bill in which Congress and the Administration work together to pursue trade agreements and enact those agreements into law. It specifies legislative procedures which, in conjunction with extensive Congressional consultations, allows the President to submit trade agreements to Congress for an up-or-down vote within a set period of time, without amendment. TPA does not remove the authority of Congress to review trade agreements and pass implementing legislation.
TPA helps create a strategic framework for U.S. trade policy and establishes a critical relationship between the President and Congress in order to pursue trade negotiations.
The modern form of the TPA dates from the Trade Act of 1974, which granted President Nixon the ability to negotiate the Tokyo Round in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). It enabled Congress to suspend its ordinary legislative procedures and give trade agreements expedited treatment. More specifically, relevant committees were given a more limited time to consider implementing bills. Once the bill reached the floor there was a limited time for debate, and no amendments could be considered. Congress recognized the importance of retaining the President’s ability to enter into trade agreement and determined that countries trading with the United States would be reluctant to enter into agreements which would be subject to unlimited congressional debate and amendment.
In exchange for limited debate and no amendments, the Trade Act of 1974 required the executive branch to consult with relevant committees in Congress during negotiations and to notify Congress 90 days before signing an agreement. Since 1974, the TPA has been renewed and amended in some form until expiring in 2007.