Driving Directions for TPP

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Everyone is asking: When will Congress actually vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)?

As negotiators from the 12 TPP nations work to conclude a deal this fall, the fast track process spelled out in TPA offers a winding roadmap through a series of dates and rules that policymakers will use as the Asia trade deal makes its way to Congress. Below, we outline a series of major mile markers and pit stops along the way.

Mile Markers: The Journey to a TPP Vote

While we don’t know when the TPP agreement will be reached, it is widely believed that the negotiations are in the final stages. Because there are so many timelines and deadlines in TPA, for the sake of this memo, let’s assume the TPP deal is done on October 1, 2015 as an example. The earliest things could happen would be on the following timeline:

October 1, 2015—Agreement reached. At this point, the Administration must notify Congress of its intention to sign TPP, but TPA prevents the White House from actually signing the agreement for 90 days. At the same time, information about the trade deal is also submitted to the U.S. International Trade Commission for their economic impact report.

October 31, 2015—Deal made public. As proscribed by TPA, the text of the completed agreement must be made available online to the public 60 days before the President can sign the agreement.

December 30, 2015—Agreement signed. President Obama is allowed to sign TPP as long as the above two steps have been met.

January 2015—Potential hearings & mock markups. Following the signed agreement, the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee may choose to hold hearings and mock markups. These are not mandatory and serve as purely an advisory part of the process.

January 29, 2015—TPP sent to Congress. Thirty days before the President submits the agreement to Congress, the final legal text and information on how the Administration intends to administer the agreement must be provided to Congress.

February 2015—Consideration could begin in Congress. TPP would face a simple majority vote in the House and Senate.

Road Construction Ahead: Potential Delays to a Vote

The timeline above notes the quickest path that the TPP could take to reach Congress. However, there are a number of points that could extend the journey. Specifically:

  • Any of the shot clocks noted above could slide, moving back the whole process. For example, the deal must be made public for 60 days before signing. So if the agreement is reached on October 1st, but the deal is not made public until November 15th, the President can’t sign it until January 14th (60 days after it’s made public).
  • Once the agreement is signed, the Administration could take up to 60 days to submit a list of changes that need to be made to U.S. law.
  • Similarly, after the agreement is signed, the U.S. International Trade Commission could take up to 105 days to provide their report on the economic impact of the trade agreement.
  • Once the deal is sent to Congress, the House and Senate each have 45 session days to move the bill from committee to floor consideration.