The Trans-Pacific Partnership: Questions that Congress Must Answer

Americans will likely have many months to investigate and debate the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Under Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) guidelines, changes to the law needed to implement trade agreements are subject to a majority vote by both Houses of Congress without amendment. But Congress could also consider TPP-implementing legislation under the same procedures it uses for most other bills. For example, according to the House Ways and Means Committee: “TPA sets up mechanisms for Congress to turn off the expedited procedures if the administration fails to meet its TPA obligations.” The United States already has individual free trade agreements with six of the 11 TPP partners. Reducing barriers to trade and investment with the remaining countries, including Japan, has potential benefits. Congress must weigh such benefits against the aspects of the agreement that have the potential to reduce economic freedom.

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