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The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015 (BCTPAA, title II of P.L. 114-26) renewed the “trade promotion authority” (TPA) under which implementing bills for trade agreements that address non-tariff barriers to trade (and certain levels of tariff reduction) are eligible for expedited (or “fast track”) consideration by Congress under the “trade authorities procedures” established by the Trade Act of 1974 (P.L. 93-618). These expedited procedures provide for automatic introduction of the implementing bill submitted by the President, attempt to ensure that both chambers will consider and vote on it, prohibit amendment, and eliminate any need to resolve bicameral differences before sending the measure to the President. (In practice, each chamber has usually agreed to consider each implementing bill under terms that modify or override the statutory requirements, but that usually retain the prohibition on amendment.)
These arrangements have been viewed as assuring negotiating partners that the United States will implement a trade agreement in the form negotiated; they also ensure that Congress will be able to conclude action within a delimited period of time. For these reasons, however, they also have often been seen as restricting Congress to approving or disapproving the terms of a trade agreement in the form negotiated by the President.
The BCTPAA, however, also mitigates these restrictions in several ways.
First, it establishes numerous requirements that a trade agreement must meet in order for the implementing bill to be eligible for expedited consideration.
Second, the BCTPAA provides several means by which Congress can deny expedited consideration for a specific trade agreement and either decline to consider it or consider it under terms that would permit amendment and eliminate debate limits.
Finally, the BCTPAA provides that any of the resolutions through which Congress can deny expedited consideration becomes available for floor consideration in either chamber only through action by the respective revenue committee.



Implementing Bills For Trade Agreements


Statutory Procedures Under Trade Promotion Authority

Richard S. Beth

Congressional Research Service Report R44584