Hatch Commentary: TPA Guarantees Congress Always Has the Final Say on Trade Pacts

Sen. Orrin Hatch's office offers this commentary on TPA.

Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) is a trade tool that sets the terms for trade agreements and makes clear that any trade agreement has no effect on U.S. law. 

In fact, the only way to change U.S. law is through congressional action. 

TPA reaffirms that this basic constitutional principle applies to all trade agreements. And, nothing about TPA can or will change this basic constitutional principle for trade agreements that have already been approved by Congress.

It’s that simple.

All U.S. trade agreements, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), allow trading partners to review the progress of an agreement to see how it’s working and whether it should be updated. This is known as a “living agreement.”

Like past agreements, TPP makes clear that any decision to change the rules in the future would have to be reviewed and agreed to under the domestic legal procedures of each country. In the United States, that means any modifications that would change U.S. law would have to be approved by Congress. 

In other words, all U.S. trade agreements are living agreements, but Congress always has the final say.