Billy Long of Missouri is no Gene Taylor–he is sinking Missourians

Thank you for contacting me with your concerns regarding Fast Track authority for trade negotiation.

As you know, Fast Track, also sometimes referred to as trade promotion authority, refers to a trade agreement process where the president is permitted to negotiate an international trade agreement which Congress then approves or disapproves, but cannot amend. Recently, some critics of Fast Track authority have raised concerns over its constitutionality. While the first modern Fast Track authority was granted in the Trade Act of 1974, the president and his diplomats have negotiated economic agreements since the earliest days of the republic.

The first such treaty of note, commonly referred to as the Jay Treaty, was conducted by John Jay, one of the Founding Fathers, during his service to our nation as a special envoy to Great Britain for President George Washington. The Jay Treaty covered a variety of issues including issues of trade and commerce between the United States, Great Britain and British territories. Once the treaty had been concluded by Mr. Jay it was submitted by President Washington to the United States Senate for that chamber’s advice and consent. This pattern of presidential conduction of trade treaties continues throughout our nation’s history and because of this history I am confident that Congress has the constitutional authority to enact trade promotion authority.

Modern Fast Track authority is not a general grant of authority to the president and is in some ways more restrictive than the Congressional oversight of trade agreements exercised by Congress during our nation’s early history. This is because modern trade agreements typically reflect changes in the law beyond tariffs, such as certain regulations or other aspects of the law that can be classified as non-tariff barriers to trade. A typical fast track agreement will set guidelines within which the president may negotiate the potential treaty. The president may not conclude an agreement that goes outside of the congressionally mandated guidelines. Once the treaty is concluded both houses of Congress must then approve the treaty through an expedited process that limits debate and procedural delaying tactics. 

Fast track authority is also important because of the scope of modern trade agreements. Early trade agreements focused on tariff levels and access to markets. Today’s trade agreements must delve deeply into areas of public policy concerning regulations on the environment, labor, non-tariff taxes, consumer product safety issues and other barriers to trade that are the result of the modern regulatory state. The issues are so numerous and technically complex that Congress would likely be unable to craft a piece of legislation addressing all these concerns. While I agree that we should eliminate regulations and roll back these barriers to trade so that future trade agreements can be conducted more easily, we cannot afford to pass up opportunities to achieve agreements on free trade right now. Our economy needs the job creation which free trade offers for American workers and the lower prices it provides for American consumers. 

Again, thank you for contacting me on this important issue. Hearing the views of all Missourians gives me the opportunity to better understand how important issues could impact the people of the Seventh District and the future interests of the nation.

For additional information regarding current legislation, my representation of the Seventh District, and to sign up to receive my monthly newsletter, I invite you to visit my website at .


Billy Long
Member of Congress

About eslkevin

I am a peace educator who has taken time to teach and work in countries such as the USA, Germany, Japan, Nicaragua, Mexico, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman over the past 4 decades.
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