Trade Act of 2002

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The Trade Act of 2002, also called the U.S. Trade Promotion Authority Act, granted the president of the United States the authority to negotiate trade deals with other countries and forced Congress to only vote up or down (yes or no) on the agreement, without amendments or a filibuster. This authority is sometimes called "fast track authority," since it is thought to streamline approval of trade agreements. [1]


Trade Promotion Authority

Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) or Fast Track Negotiating Authority can be given to the president by Congress in accordance with the Trade Act of 1974. It was implemented between 1974 and 1994, and was again established in 2002 under the Trade Act of 2002.[2] With TPA, upon deciding to enter a trade agreement, the administration and Congress agree on guidelines prior to negotiations. Then, after the president has completed negotiations and signed a trade agreement, the measure is guaranteed an up-or-down vote without amendments or a filibuster. This helps ensure a timely passage of trade agreements and helps assure trade partners that the negotiated agreements will not be altered in Congress.[3]

Since 1975, the TPA has been an integral part of each of the last five presidential administrations. The first TPA expired in 1994 under President Bill Clinton, and was not renewed until 2002 under President George W. Bush. The TPA agreed to in 2002 could have been terminated on June 30, 2005 following the president's 2005 report on its effectiveness up to that point, but it was not.[4] The TPA was then set to expire on July 1, 2007, unless extended by Congress.[5]


If the president transmits a trade agreement to Congress, then the majority leaders of the House and Senate (or their designees) must introduce the bill submitted by the president on the first day on which their chamber is in session. Senators and representatives may not amend the president’s bill, either in committee or in the Senate or House. The committees to which the bill has been referred have 45 days after its introduction to report the bill, or be automatically discharged, and each House must vote within 15 days after the bill is reported or discharged. In the likely case that the bill is a revenue bill (as tariffs are revenues), it must originate in the House, and after the Senate receives the House-passed bill, the Finance Committee would have another 15 days to report the bill or be discharged, and then the Senate would have another 15 days to pass the bill. On the House and Senate floors, each chamber can debate the bill for no more than 20 hours, and thus senators cannot filibuster the bill and it will pass with a simple majority vote. Thus the entire congressional consideration could take no longer than 90 days.[6]


House action

The Trade Act of 2002 (H.R. 3009) was introduced in the House on October 3, 2001 by Rep. Philip Crane (R-Ill.) and referred to the Committee on Ways and Means. The measure received 21 cosponsors before final passage. After going through a conference committee, the final bill passed the House on July 27, 2002 with a close vote of 215-212.[7]

House record vote:
Trade Act of 2002

July 27, 2002
Passed, 215-212, view details
Dem: 25-183 opposed, GOP: 190-27 in favor, Ind: 0-2 opposed

Senate action

Originally referred to the Committee on Finance, the final bill passed the Senate on August 1, 2002 by a vote of 64-34.[8]

Senate record vote:
Trade Act of 2002

August 1, 2002
Passed, 64-34, view details
Dem: 20-29 opposed, GOP: 43-5 in favor, Ind: 1 in favor

President's signature

President George W. Bush signed the Trade Act of 2002 into law on August 6, 2002, becoming Public Law No: 107-210.


The president's TPA as established under the Trade Act of 2002 expired on July 1, 2007. As of mid-June, there seemed to be no effort to extend the authority beyond that date. Several major trade interest groups, such as Business Roundtable and the Trade for America Coalition, began lobbying Congress to renew the president's fast track authority, though it was considered doubtful that any effort at renewal would be made by Congress. All pending trade agreements already signed by the president would still receive fast-track treatment, even after the TPA had expired.[9]

Trade Agreements

Under the Trade Act of 2002, the following trade agreements were established:

The following trade agreements were pending as of June 2007:

  • U.S.-Panama Free Trade Agreement
  • U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement
  • U.S.-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (part of Andean Trade Promotion Agreement)
  • U.S.-Columbia Trade Promotion Agreement (part of Andean Trade Promotion Agreement)

Criticism and commendation

James Roberts from the Heritage Foundation criticized the Democratic leadership in Congress for their rejection of the U.S.-Columbia Trade Promotion Agreement. He argued that Congress had originally fought to add new environmental and labor sections to the agreement, though even after they were added in, Congress still opposed the agreement. He argued that "apparently at the behest of protectionist interests in U.S. organized labor," Democrats were using any excuse necessary to renege on their promise to pass the modified trade agreement.[10]

Roberts stated that Columbia had made significant strides to combat narco-terrorists in the region under the Clinton administration's "Plan Columbia" that was continued under Bush. He pointed out, however, that the extremely popular Columbian President, Alvaro Uribe, argued that economic growth, and not just law enforcement, would sustain Columbia's improvements. Roberts argued that strengthening economic engagement with Latin America would benefit all countries involved, and that the proposed trade agreements and trade promotion authority were exactly the tools to do so.[11]

Articles and resources

See also


  1. Wikipedia: Trade Act of 2002
  2. Wikipedia: Fast track (trade)
  3. U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Trade Promotion Authority
  4. U.S. Chamber of Commerce: Trade Promotion Authority
  5. Wikipedia: Fast track (trade)
  6. Wikipedia: Fast track (trade)
  7. THOMAS: H.R.3009
  8. THOMAS: H.R.3009
  9. Kate Ackley, "Fast-Track Set to Expire, Congress Yawns," Roll Call, June 13, 2007.
  10. James Roberts, "The U.S.–Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement: Don’t Let Progress Fall Victim to D.C. Politics," The Heritage Foundation, August 17, 2007.
  11. James Roberts, "The U.S.–Colombia Trade Promotion Agreement: Don’t Let Progress Fall Victim to D.C. Politics," The Heritage Foundation, August 17, 2007.

External resources

A list of bilateral and regional trade agreements with the United States, according to the Office of the United States Trade Representative:

External articles