Journey to a TPP Vote: Path to Congressional Consideration

Journey to a TPP Vote: Path to Congressional Consideration

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Now that negotiations have concluded on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the text has been made public, and President Obama has announced his intention to sign this blockbuster trade deal, everyone is asking: When will Congress actually vote on TPP?

The Congressional approval process is spelled out in Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which was enacted in June 2015. TPA laid out a series of dates and rules that policymakers must follow as the Asia-Pacific 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

These steps have already been completed:

October 5, 2015—Agreement reached. After over five years of negotiations on the TPP, an agreement between the 12 countries was announced in Atlanta.
November 5, 2015—Text made publicly available and President announces intention to sign. The TPP text was made publicly available online, and President Obama notified Congress of his intention to sign the deal. TPA mandates that the text be available publicly for at least 60 days, and the White House wait at least 90 days to sign the agreement. At this time, information about the trade deal was submitted to the U.S. International Trade Commission so they can conduct an economic impact report.

The earliest that things could happen from here would be on the following timeline:

February 3, 2016—Agreement signed. President Obama would be allowed to sign TPP.

February 2016—Potential hearings & mock markups. Following the signed agreement, the Senate Finance Committee and the 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.

March 4, 2016—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.

March/April 2016—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:

  • 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.
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