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A Measured Pace, Distribution of Power, and Transparency: Current TPA Legislation Improves Upon Trad

“Fast Track” was formally renamed Trade Promotion Authority by former President George W. Bush in its renewal request of 2001.[1] Despite the name change, trade opponents drill the antiquated term “Fast Track” into the public’s perception of TPA, painting the process as a hasty, decision-making vehicle. In actuality, “Fast Track” is anything but. To get a better understanding of the true rate at which TPA operates, see the info graphic below outlining TPA’s congressional timeline.

TPA Congressional Timeline.jpeg

The publicly contentious component of the proposed TPA that most accurately represents the “fast” nature of TPA is the “up or down” vote, where Congress accepts or rejects a given trade deal as is, no amendments. Contrary to some trade opponent’s rhetoric, the "up or down" vote is not a mechanism for voracious policymakers to force questionable trade legislation down the throats of Americans. It is designed, however, as a measure to ensure trade agreements retain their essential character throughout a given bill’s development into law by restricting alterations to the deal.

Additionally, as US Commerce Department Portland Director Scott Goddin mentioned at the April CRCBFA General Membership Meeting, by the time the bill comes to the “up or down” vote itself, "It's not like this should be new to [them]."[2] Once Congress sets the initial trade objectives with the Executive Branch, the administration begins negotiations abroad, all the while advised by private sectors, Interagency Trade Enforcement Centers [ITECs], Labor, Local Government, Trade Representatives, and Environment Advocates. The draft of the trade bill spends 60 days in Congress, 60 days in the public, then goes back to negotiations, and then is presented for the “up or down” vote. As stated in the April 16th Oregonian opinion piece Wyden