Fast-Tracking Would Let President Hide Trade Deal Details

By Published on May 4, 2015

Critics of “fast-tracking” for free-trade agreements say it would prevent Congress from seeing important details of the deals, and the bill’s language supports their concerns.

Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation, also known as “fast-tracking,” would enable the president to submit trade agreements to Congress for an up-or-down vote with no opportunity for amendments. Although TPA would ease passage of agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), opponents worry that it could also hide potentially controversial elements of those deals from the public.

The relevant text of the bill reads: “The reports submitted to Congress under paragraphs (2) and (3), or any portion of such reports, may be classified to the extent the President determines appropriate.”

In other words, the president would have unilateral discretion under TPA to withhold key details of future trade deals, but Congress would still be required to vote on the overall agreement.

“Congress has the responsibility to ensure that any international trade agreement entered into by the United States must serve the national interest, not merely the interests of those crafting the proposal in secret,” Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions said Monday in a press release.


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