When is it optimal to delegate: The theory of fast-track authority
With fast-track authority (FTA), the US Congress delegates tradepolicy authority to the president by committing not to amend a trade agreement. Why would it cede such power? We suggest an interpretation in which Congress uses FTA to forestall destructive competition between its members for protectionist rents. In our model: (i) FTA is never granted if an industry operates in the majority of districts; (ii) The more symmetric the industrial pattern, the more likely is FTA, since competition for protectionist rents is most punishing when bargaining power is symmetrically distributed; (iii) Widely disparate initial tariffs prevent free trade even with FTA.