Bipartisan Members of Senate Finance Committee Call for Greater Transparency from U.S. Trade Rep; cite lack of consultation with Congress on recent trade talks | The United States Senate Committee on Finance

May 10, 2022

Senators: Executive Branch Must Follow Consultation Guidelines and Meaningfully Brief Congress on Ongoing Negotiations

Washington DC–Senate Finance Committee Member Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Finance Committee Member Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), and Finance Committee Member Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey) called today U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to significantly improve transparency and consultation with Congress on ongoing trade negotiations, in a letter sent today to Senators Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nevada) and Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska).

The bipartisan senators cited negotiations to waive intellectual property rules at the World Trade Organization – where details were made public before Congress was briefed or the text of the agreement was shown – as a recent example of the executive branch’s failure to adequately consult with Congress.

“We want to ensure that this failure to properly consult with Congress does not replicate itself in other areas, especially as the administration seeks to launch new trade negotiations under the auspices of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, pursue multilateral and plurilateral negotiations at the WTO, and engage in bilateral talks with countries like the UK,” wrote the senators.

“As such, we believe the administration should follow both the letter and the spirit of the Transparency Principles and Guidelines and fully consult with members,” they continued. “The mere fact that changes to U.S. law are not required to implement a final agreement or that ideas are exchanged in a ‘white paper’ does not absolve the USTR from fulfilling its duty to consult – in detail, including sharing any and all specific texts and proposals – in a timely manner, throughout a negotiation.”

Congress has primary power to regulate tariffs and trade with foreign nations under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. It delegates powers to the executive, on the condition that it is consulted on trade policies.

Read the letter here.

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