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Congressman Scott Tipton

Representing the 3rd District of Colorado

What is Trade Promotion Authority or TPA?

What is Trade Promotion Authority or TPA?

There is a lot of confusion about what TPA—Trade Promotion Authority—is and what it accomplishes. TPA is not a trade deal, nor is it approval for any trade deal including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). TPA is the vehicle used by Congress to consider a trade agreement that has been used for the majority of the last 80 years. TPA increases accountability and transparency in negotiations, strengthens America’s position at the negotiating table, and makes proposed trade agreements open for public review before a vote is taken in Congress. For the first time in law, TPA will also make the proposed trade agreement open to public review for a full 60 days, as well as lay-out trade negotiating objectives set by Congress that the President must meet.

As a staunch free market advocate, I believe it is critical that we have open, modern and fair free trade policies in place that get the best deal possible for the American people and create opportunities for American goods in foreign markets—95 percent of the world’s population lives outside of America’s borders. When trade works, hardworking Americans reap the benefits. In Colorado alone nearly 710,000 jobs are tied to trade. 

To ensure that the Administration is working to get the best trade deal possible, we must remove the veil of secrecy from TPP—Trans-Pacific Partnership—negotiations, and have a transparent process where Members of Congress and the American people are able to review any proposed agreement. Additionally, under TPA the Administration is held accountable by specific negotiating objectives—150 of them—set by Congress. If those objectives are not met, then the President immediately loses all TPA negotiating authority.

Most importantly in this process, Congress, the people’s representatives, have the final say on whether to approve or deny the proposed trade agreement. TPA ensures the President is checked by Congress at every step of the way. Without it, the President has the Constitutional authority to negotiate trade deals with whomever he wants, out of the public’s view.

Many of us in Congress are wary of the President given the track record of his policies over the past 6 years, which is why TPA is so important—it shines light on Executive Branch trade negotiations, makes the proposed agreement public, and increases the Administration’s accountability to Congress and the American people by requiring that a strict set of guidelines be followed and giving Congress the final up or down vote on any proposed trade deal. Should the TPP fail to get the best deal possible for the American people, it will not have my vote.

Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015*

Trade Promotion Authority—or TPA—is a partnership between Congress and the administration that ensures the United States secures the most effective trade agreements possible. TPA also brings greater transparency to the negotiating process by empowering Congress to conduct vigorous oversight and hold the administration accountable.

Transparency*

TPA guarantees Congress a meaningful role in all trade negotiations. Under TPA, every member of Congress will be able to:

  • Read Negotiating Text: Allows every member of Congress to read the negotiating text.
  • Receive Detailed Briefings: Requires the U.S. Trade Representative’s office to brief any interested member on the status of negotiations at any time.
  • Attend Negotiating Rounds: Allows any member to become a “congressional adviser” and as a result eligible to attend negotiating rounds.
  • Provide Guidance: Creates House and Senate Advisory Groups to oversee negotiations and receive regular briefings. Any member can submit views.
  • Coordinate with Public and Advisory Committees: Lays down guidelines on public engagement and sharing information with advisory committees.
  • Receive adequate time to review deal: Requires the President to publish the text of a completed trade agreement 60 days before signing it.
  • Consult with a New Transparency Officer: Creates a chief transparency officer at USTR that will consult with Congress and advise USTR on transparency policies

Accountability*

TPA ensures Congress maintains control over changes to U.S. law and provides rules for considering trade agreements.

  • Sets Negotiating Objectives: Sets Congressional priorities for trade agreements.
  • Guarantees Long-Term Oversight: Extends trade promotion authority for six years.
  • Protects U.S. Sovereignty: Affirms that Congress—and only Congress—can change U.S. law.
  • Narrows Scope of Implementation Bills: Stipulates that all implementing legislation include only provisions “necessary or appropriate” to enacting trade deals.
  • Extends Oversight to Current Negotiations: Applies TPA requirements to ongoing negotiations, including oversight and consultation requirements.
  • Strengthens Oversight: Applies expedited procedures only to agreements finished in a specific timeframe and tightens entry-into-force procedures.
  • Provides an Off Switch: TPA sets up mechanisms for Congress to turn off the expedited procedures if the administration fails to meet its TPA obligations.

*Content courtesy of the House Committee on Ways and Means

TPA Articles, Columns and Op-eds

Additional resources and information on TPA from the House Committee on Ways and Means