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Wyden Statement Introduction of Congressional Oversight Over Trade Negotiations Act

Wyden Statement Introduction of Congressional Oversight Over Trade Negotiations Act

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Published by Senator Ron Wyden
U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Finance Subcommittee on International Trade Customs and Global Competitiveness, introduces legislation clarifying USTR’s obligation to share information on trade agreements with Members of Congress. Legislation is necessitated by administration’s refusal to share information with Congress broadly, and specifically with Wyden’s office.
U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, Chairman of the U.S. Senate Finance Subcommittee on International Trade Customs and Global Competitiveness, introduces legislation clarifying USTR’s obligation to share information on trade agreements with Members of Congress. Legislation is necessitated by administration’s refusal to share information with Congress broadly, and specifically with Wyden’s office.

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Categories:Types, Letters
Published by: Senator Ron Wyden on May 23, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/24/2012

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STATEMENTFORTHERECORD
"\e
U.S.SenatorRonWyden
,
OnIntp.oductionofthe«CongressionalOversightOverTradeNegotiationsAct"
M.President,rightnow,theObamaAdministrationis
in
theprocessofnegotiatingwhatmightprovetobethemostfar-reachingeconomicagreementsincetheWorldTradeOrganizationwasestablishednearlytwentyyearsago.Thegoalofthisagreement-knownastheTransPacificPartnership(TPP)-istoeconomicallybindtogethertheeconomiesoftheAsiaPacific.
It
involvescountriesrangingfromAustralia,Singapore,Vietnam,Peru,ChileandtheUnitedStatesandholdsthepotentialtoincludemanymorecountries,likeJapan,Korea,Canada,andMexico..
If
successful,theagreementwillsetnormsforthetradeofgoodsandservicesandincludesdisciplinesrelatedtointellectualproperty,accesstomedicines,Internetgovernance,investment,governmentprocurement,workerrightsandenvironmentalstandards.
If
agreedto,TPPwillsetthetoneforournation'seconomicfutureforyearstocome,impactingthewayCongressintervenesandactsonbehalfoftheAmericanpeopleitrepresents.
It
maybethe
u.s.
TradeRepresentative's(USTR)currentjobtonegotiatetradeagreementsonbehalfoftheUnitedStates,butArticle
1
Section8oftheU.S.ConstitutiongivesCongress-nottheUSTRoranyothermemberoftheExecutiveBranch-theresponsibilityofregulatingforeigncommerce.Itwas
OUT
FoundingFathers'intentiontoensurethatthelawsandpoliciesthatgoverntheAmericanpeopletakeintoaccounttheinterestsofalltheAmericanpeople,notjustaprivilegedfew.Andyet,Mr.President,themajorityofCongressisbeingkeptinthedarkastothesubstanceoftheTPPnegotiations,whilerepresentativesofU.S.corporations-likeHalliburton,Chevron,PI-IRMA,Corncast,andtheMotionPictureAssociationofAmerica-arebeingconsultedandmadeprivytodetailsoftheagreement.
As
theOfficeoftheUSTR
will
tellyou,thePresidentgivesitbroadpowertokeepinformationaboutthetradepolicies
it
advancesandnegotiates,secret.Letmetellyou,theUSTR
is
making
fun
useofthisauthority.
As
theChairmanoftheSenateFinanceCommittee'sSubcommitteeonInternationalTrade,Customs,andGlobalCompetitiveness,myofficeisresponsibleforconductingoversightovertheUSTRandtradenegotiations.Todothat,IaskedthatmystaffobtainthepropersecuritycredentialstoviewtheinformationthatUSTRkeepsconfidentialandsecret.ThisismaterialthatfullydescribeswhattheUSTRisseeking
in
theTPPtalksonbehalfoftheAmericanpeopleandonbehalfofCongress.Morethantwomonthsafterreceivingthepropersecuritycredentials,mystaffisstillbarredfromviewingthedetailsoftheproposalsthatUSTRisadvancing.
 
M.President,wehearthattheprocessbywhichTPPisbeingnegotiatedhasbeenamodeloftransparency.Idisagreewiththatstatement.AndnotjustbecausetheStaffDirectoroftheSenatesubcommitteeresponsibleforoversightofinternationaltradecontinuestobedeniedaccesstosubstantiveanddetailedinformationthatpertainstotheTPPtalks,M.President,Congresspassedlegislation
in
2002
toformtheCongressionalOversightGroup,orCOG,tofostermoreUSTRconsultation
with
Congress.Iwasasenatorin
2002.
IvotedforthatlawandIcantellyoutheintentionofthatlawwastoensurethatUSTRconsulted
with
moreMembersofCongressnotless.
In
tryingtogettothebottomofwhymystaff
is
beingdeniedinformation,
it
seemsthatsomeintheExecutiveBranchmaybeinterpretingthelawthatestablishedtheCOGtomeanthatonlythefewMembersofCongresswhobelongtotheCOGcanbegivenaccesstotradenegotiationinformation,whileeveryotherMemberofCongress,andtheirstaff,mustbedeniedsuchaccess.So,thisisnotjustaquestionofwhetherornotclearedstaffshouldhaveaccesstoinformationabouttheTPPtalks,thisisaquestionofwhetherornottheadministrationbelievesthatmostMembersofCongresscanorshouldhaveasayintradenegotiations.Again,havingvotedforthatlaw,1stronglydisagree
with
suchaninterpretationandfinditoffensivethatsomewouldsuggestthatalawmeanttofostermoreconsultationwithCongressisintendedtolimit
it.
ButgiventhattheTPPnegotiationsarecurrentlyunderwayandI-andthevastmajorityofmycolleaguesandtheirstaff-continuetobedeniedafullunderstanding
of
whattheUSTRisseekingintheagreement,wedonothavetimetowasteonaprotractedlegalbattleoverthisissue.Therefore,IamintroducinglegislationtoclarifytheintentoftheCOGstatute.Thelegislation,Ipropose,isstraightforward.ItgivesallMembersofCongressandstaff
with
appropriateclearanceaccesstothesubstanceoftradenegotiations.Finally,MembersofCongresswhoareresponsibleforconductingoversightovertheenforcementoftradeagreements
will
beprovidedinformationbytheExecutiveBranchindicatingwhetherourtradingpartnersarelivingupto'theirtradeobligations.Putsimply,
this
legislationwouldensurethattherepresentativese1ectedbytheAmericanpeopleareaffordedthesamelevelofinfluenceoverournation'spoliciesasthepaidrepresentativesofPHRMA,HalliburtonandtheMotionPictureAssociation.MyintentistodoeverythingIcantoseethatthislegislationisadvancedquicldyandbecomeslaw,sothatelectedMembersofCongresscandowhattheConstitutionrequiresandwhattheirconstituentsexpect.Iyieldthefloor.
 
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