The Trade Promotion Authority is a legislative procedure that the U.S. Congress grants to the President. It allows the administration to negotiate trade agreements without interference. Members can still vote “yes” or “no” to a trade agreement. But they can`t modify any element or filibuster to delay it. For this reason, it is also known as fast-track or fast-track commercial law. The main challenge is to find a better balance in the rapid monitoring provisions. In principle, Congress is authorized to retain expedited processing for simple “non-consultation” reasons. But in practice, although Congress has not repeatedly authorized the renewal of the fast track general authority, it has never retained expedited procedures for an outstanding agreement.
This indicates that Congress is more agitated in providing broad authority, which could be used in unforeseen circumstances, than with actual agreements under review. As long as the high-speed train has to be defended on the basis of the worst agreement that could be presented, the reconstruction will remain difficult. Is the current form of the fast lane the best way to do that? The answer is almost certainly not. The main problem is the abstract nature of the fast-track debate. Congress`s call for permanent power to pursue trade agreements that are not yet defined and go far beyond that is a recipe for problems. A powerful coalition of opponents has mobilized effectively on several occasions to thwart fast-track laws. But the supporters only launch a full counter-offensive when concrete benefits are in sight. Thus, in 1997 and 1998, without a trade agreement, Parliament failed in Parliament, but in 1994, while the hard-won gains of the Uruguay Round remained unresolved, Parliament voted overwhelmingly to approve it with the support of nearly 60% of the Democrats.
Fast Track is the result of several years of reorientation of the legislative and executive powers in international trade policy. Before the twentieth century, the regulation of foreign trade was almost exclusively a prerogative of Congress. Tariffs were considered as a function of national tax policy rather than as such and were only amended as such by an act of Congress. The President`s main task in trade was to impose the tariffs set by Congress and to negotiate bilateral friendship, trade and navigation agreements that provided contractors with the most advantageous tariffs available. Finding the right balance depends on the interaction of several fast-track provisions: the duration, the scope, the accuracy of the direction of the negotiations given to the President, and the mechanisms for moving the rapid processing of a particular agreement away from it. There will likely be several different combinations that could be of comparable effectiveness to further steer substantive debate towards certain agreements, while combining the procedural value of closer cooperation between branches. The fast lane situation deals with two key issues. Much attention is paid to whether Congress can reach political agreement on the substantive directions it gives the president with respect to the content of trade agreements, particularly with respect to labour and environmental standards. The second question is how to facilitate a productive relationship between Congress and the president in promoting U.S. business interests. The second subject deserves more attention than it has received and will probably be at the centre of any Senate debate.
It is counterproductive to turn the fast into a separate research. Rather, the key lies in the search for a pragmatic mechanism for negotiating and implementing strong trade agreements quickly. Is there a way to strike a balance between better congressional oversight and procedural restraint in Congress without inviting the long-running impasse of the past eight years? The answer is almost certainly yes.