President Trump formally requested that Congress extend Trade Promotion Authority (TPA)
, aka "Fast Track," on March 20. TPA, last renewed in 2015, expires July 1. Thus, if neither chamber passes an extension disapproval resolution by June 30, TPA will extend three years and apply to agreements entered into before July 1, 2021.
Under the Constitution, the House of Representatives and Senate have the authority to regulate commerce with foreign nations and set duties. Throughout the years, Congress has ceded much of that authority to the Executive branch. TPA - which allows the White House to negotiate trade deals while restricting Congress to up-or-down voting on the resulting deals with limited debate (no filibusters nor amendments) - is a notable example of that now-Executive authority. However, either chamber can introduce a resolution to prevent the auto-renewal of TPA. The House, under Presidents Bush and Obama, only barely granted TPA. And today, many congressional Republicans are dismayed with the President's aluminum and steel tariffs.
Since 1979, TPA has been used for 14 bilateral and regional free trade agreements (FTAs) and has been renewed four times - 1979, 1988, 2002 and 2015. Currently, the administration's most notable FTA is NAFTA, for which TPA could potentially be used to consider implementing legislation. In the report submitted March 20, the administration focused upon NAFTA and other potential FTAs with the
United Kingdom (post-EU separation in March 2019);
Countries of the Trans-Pacific Partnership; and
Countries in Africa and Southeast Asia.
Also, the report made no mention of the ongoing Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) talks. In general, the report omits specifics and timelines. For example, regarding NAFTA, the report notes that the "Administration does not want to set artificial deadlines for conclusion
." Nevertheless, Congress has until June 30 to pass a disapproval resolution when the President will thereafter have Trade Promotion Authority until July 1, 2021.