Nov 12, 2013 Issues: Economy and Jobs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Walter B. Jones (NC-3) was joined by 21 of his House Republican colleagues on a letter to the president expressing opposition to Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority. The signatories, while representing different parts of the Republican Party, all oppose delegating away Congress’ constitutional authority over trade.

“Some of us have opposed past trade deals and some have supported them, but when it comes to Fast Track, members of Congress from across the political spectrum are united,” said Congressman Jones.  “Our nation’s founders wisely gave Congress exclusive authority over trade in the U.S. Constitution.  They knew that Congress exercising that authority would provide the best way to grow the economy, create U.S. jobs, and most benefit the American people.” 

Fast Track is an extraordinary procedure that has been used 16 times since its establishment in the early 1970s. Hundreds of U.S. trade agreements were implemented without Fast Track, notably including the controversial deal relating to China’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2000.  Under Fast Track, a president may sign and enter into a trade agreement before Congress gets to vote on it, and then be guaranteed a vote within a set number of days with limited debate and no amendments allowed.

Given the constitutional concerns the process raises, Democratic and Republican presidents alike have struggled to convince Congress to delegate Fast Track authority to them. George W. Bush was unable to get a 2002 grant of Fast Track extended when it last expired in 2007.  Prior to Bush’s 2002 Fast Track delegation, a bipartisan House majority of 71 Republicans and 171 Democrats voted down Fast Track when it was requested by President Bill Clinton.