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Trump Requests Extension of Trade Negotiating Authority

Friday, March 23, 2018
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

President Trump submitted to Congress this week a request for a three-year extension of trade promotion authority, which allows the president to negotiate trade agreements that Congress must approve or reject within a specific timeframe but may not amend. Trump said an extension is “essential” to his ongoing efforts to revise NAFTA and to potentially negotiate new trade agreements with other countries, “including in Africa and Southeast Asia.” The request does not mention talks to improve the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement.

TPA is currently scheduled to expire June 30 but will be extended through June 30, 2021, unless either the House or Senate adopts a resolution of disapproval. While such a resolution would typically be considered unlikely with the president’s party controlling both chambers, some Republicans have voiced concern that the Trump administration has not fully adhered to the negotiating objectives in the current TPA law with respect to some of the proposals it has put forward in the NAFTA talks.

In addition, leaders of the New Democrat Coalition, which they noted was “integral” to the last congressional approval of TPA in 2015, expressed skepticism this week about a possible extension. The president “and his team have shown no serious commitment to consulting with or listening to Congress on trade,” the leaders said, and instead have “continually threatened to terminate NAFTA negotiations, taken punitive measures against our allies through broad reaching tariffs and barriers, re-opened KORUS with minimal consultation with Congress, and hurt American consumers and workers through unilateral trade actions.” The leaders called on Republicans to “join us in exercising greater oversight and demanding the Trump administration significantly step up their engagement” as a TPA extension is considered.

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