President Obama has decided to play hardball with Congress on timing of the TPP Debate. Today he notified the Chairs of the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee of his intent starting the fast track clock ticking.
This is a risky tactic given that important legislators, including Senate Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch (R Utah), urged the President to allow Congress to review the text before notifying his intent to sign.
According to the Administration here is the road map for the TPP process going forward, the next steps before TPP is signed by President Obama, and before Congress then votes on the agreement.
*There will be 90 Days for Public and Congressional Review Prior to the President Signing the Agreement: While TPA requires the full text of the agreement to be publicly available for 60 days before the President signs the agreement, the text will be publicly available for a full 90 days — before the President signs TPP.
*Additional Resource for Analysis and Review: Once the President signs TPP, the International Trade Commission (ITC) will conduct a comprehensive analysis of the potential economic impact of TPP that will also be made available to the public.
*Submitting Legislative Text: In advance of Congressional consideration, the Administration will submit draft legislative text to Congress that would implement the agreement, if passed by both houses of Congress. The legislative clock for consideration will not begin until the Administration sends final legislative text to Capitol Hill.
*Congressional Consideration: After legislation is submitted, per the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015, the House of Representatives and the Senate each have a certain number of legislative days to consider the legislation in the committees of jurisdiction and on the floors of each chamber.
*Presidential Notification: If both houses of Congress pass the TPP implementation bill, the President then is empowered to sign the implementing legislation into law. The President will notify Congress in writing 30 days in advance of the agreement taking effect with respect to each of the 11 other TPP countries, once the President determines that each meets its obligations under TPP.
The battle lines are being drawn. But those who wanted to see the text before committing will be able to review it.
President Obama has thrown down the gauntlet. It is a high stakes gamble.
Stay tuned for the fallout.