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Opposition to Fast Track

Fast Track is a mechanism that delegates away to the Executive Branch the congressional authority for setting trade terms as well as other powers. In one lump sum, Fast Track:

  • Delegates Congress' constitutional authority to decide terms for international commerce at negotiations. Congress includes a list of "negotiating objectives," but these are not enforceable.
  • Permits the Executive Branch to lock down these trade terms and enter into pacts because under Fast Track, the Administration signs trade deals before Congress ever votes on them. 
  • Empowers the Executive Branch to write implementing legislation to change federal laws to conform them to an agreement's terms (usually Congress writes law, but Fast Track circumvents the congressional committee process of mark ups, etc.)
  • Pre-sets the floor procedures for final consideration of trade deals before negotiations start. Congress must vote on whatever the Administration brings back (agreement and implementing legislation) within a set time with no amendments and only 20 hours of debate.

Although hundreds of trade pacts were implemented since Fast Track's 1974 inception, Fast Track has been used only five times ever.  Despite the oft-repeated mantra about how every president since Ford has "had" Fast Track authority, in fact its only uses were the GATT Tokyo Round, U.S.-Israel FTA, Canada-U.S. FTA, NAFTA and the GATT Uruguay Round.

"Nearly 300 separate trade agreements" were negotiated by the Clinton Administration. Of these, only the Uruguay Round Agreement and NAFTA were submitted to Congress under Fast Track procedures. 

Midnight Massacre: What happened with Fast Track!

 Stop Fast Track


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State and Local Opposition to NAFTA's Chapter 11

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