The Obama administration has moved very shrewdly to deflect some of the main criticisms of the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership agreement.
- Fast Track is not as fast as I previously thought. It is true that once the TPP is submitted to Congress, there will be only 90 days to debate and decide. But there will be a longer preliminary phase in which to study and discuss the proposed agreement. I don’t know whether this was true all along and I (along with many others) didn’t realize it, or whether this is something new. But in any case, the TPP is not necessarily going to be rushed through Congress as quickly as I had previously thought.
- Evidently there will be amendments to address some of the main criticisms. For example, tobacco companies will not be able to use the Investor State Dispute Settlement mechanism to protest restrictions on cigarette advertising.
But here is the Cato Institute’s timetable for making the agreement public.
Even with the deal “concluded,” the president cannot sign the agreement until 90 days after he officially announces his intention to do so. During that period, there will be intensive consultations between the administration and Congress over the details; the legal text of the agreement will be made available to the public on the internet; the USTR advisory committees will submit their assessments of the deal to Congress; and there will be ample opportunity for informed, robust domestic debate about the deal’s pros and cons.
After the 90-day consultation period, the president can return to the TPP partners with input from Congress, which may or may not warrant modifications to the deal to improve its chances of ratification.
Once the deal is signed, the administration then has a maximum of 60 days to prepare a list of all U.S. laws that will need to be changed on account of TPP; the U.S. International Trade Commission will have a maximum of 105 days to do an analysis of the likely impact of the TPP on the U.S. economy; the congressional trade committees will perform mock markups of the implementing legislation; and, then, the final TPP implementing legislation will be introduced in both chambers.
After the legislation is introduced, the House will have 60 days and the Senate will have 30 days to hold votes. These requirements stem from the Trade Promotion Authority legislation enacted over the summer. If the TPP is going to be ratified by this Congress under this president, the timelines suggest that there isn’t much room for delay.
Source: Cato @ Liberty
Without Fast Track, there would be no deadline at all for voting the TPP up or down, there would be no restriction on amendments, and 60 votes instead of a 51-vote majority would be required for the TPP to clear the Senate.