|TRAFICANT, James A., Jr.,|
THURSDAY, JULY 16, 1998
Washington, D.C. – A resolution introduced by U. S. Rep. James A. Traficant, Jr. (D–OH) would require a two-thirds majority House vote to pass any legislation implementing a trade agreement negotiated under so-called "fast track" procedures. The resolution would also require a two-thirds majority House vote on any bill giving the President fast track authority to negotiate trade deals. "Under my resolution, enactment of trade agreements will require a consensus between the legislative and executive branches – a constitutionally sound solution of which the Founding Fathers would be proud," said Traficant.
Fast track procedures provide for an expedited negotiating process for trade agreements as well as expedited Congressional consideration of legislation needed to implement negotiated trade deals. Under fast track, only a simple majority vote of the House is required to pass fast track legislation. Fast track was originally designed to give the President additional authority to negotiate customs classifications only. It was never intended to grant the President the broad authority over a vast array of non-tariff issues he enjoys today.
Traficant noted that the President already has the Constitutional power to conduct foreign affairs and negotiate trade agreements. In fact, more than 200 trade agreements have been enacted without fast track authority. Only five trade agreements have been enacted under fast track procedures. "The truth is, the President needs fast track so he can overlook the opinions of the majority of Members of Congress," said Traficant. "The last time Congress granted the President fast track authority, he basically ignored the will of Congress on issues such as environmental protection, labor standards and American jobs."
The Trade Act of 1974 recognizes the fast track mechanism as an exercise of the rule-making power of the House. Traficant maintains that the erosion of fast track legislative intent is more than enough reason for the House to change its rules. His resolution, H. Res. 497, was introduced last month.2009