Trade Promotion Authority Expires July 1

June 29, 2021

The Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) is expiring on Thursday, July 1 and the Biden administration has given no indication that they would seek TPA renewal.

The TPA was first enacted in 1974 and for the first twenty years of its existence it was continually in force. However, it lapsed between 1994 and 2002, and from 2007 to 2015.

Some key aspects of the TPA include:

  • Trade Agreements Authority: the TPA gives President the authority to enter into reciprocal trade agreements. Congress must introduce implementing legislation for the agreement. 
  • Proclamation Authority: maintains authority for the President to negotiate tariff-only agreements within certain parameters without congressional approval.
  • Expedited Procedures: mandatory introduction of the implementing bill, automatic discharge from the committees of jurisdiction, limited floor debate, and a simple majority vote.
  • Negotiating Objectives: an agreement can be entered into only if it “makes progress” in achieving U.S. trade negotiating objectives.
  • Limitations: the TPA’s goal is to streamline adapting trade agreements, however, to assure retention of its constitutional authority, Congress included time limits on the TPA, an option to disapprove and extension of those limits, as well as two options to deny expedited consideration of an implementing bill.

The last renewal of the TPA, which happened in 2015, effectively expired on April 1, since that was the deadline for the White House to sign a new agreement that could be sent to Congress for a straight up-or-down vote using the authority. However, July 1 marks the actual expiration date of the agreement. Only one trade deal, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), was approved during the six years the latest TPA law was in force.

The last time TPA expired, in 2007, it took eight years for Congress to renew it. It seems very unlikely that a new bill will be crafted before the 2022 elections. However, if the administration seeks to draft a new agreement, it will have to be led by Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and House Ways and Means Chair Richard Neal (D-Mass.). Wyden voted for the 2015 TPA bill, while Neal opposed it. 

The NSBA has an Action Alert drafted, where you can urge legislators to reauthorize the TPA.