Senators: Executive Branch Must Follow Consultation Guidelines and Meaningfully Brief Congress on Pending Negotiations
Finance Committee Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Finance Committee
Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) and Finance Committee Member Bob Menendez (D-New
Jersey) today called on the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) to dramatically
improve transparency and consultation with Congress on pending trade
negotiations, in a letter sent today with 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 became public before Congress was briefed or shown
the text of the agreement–as a recent example of the executive branch failing
to adequately consult with Congress.
“We want to ensure that this
failure to consult properly with Congress will not be replicated in other
areas, particularly 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
discussions with countries such as the United Kingdom,” senators wrote.
“As such, we believe that the
Administration must follow both the letter and the spirit of the Transparency
Principles and Guidelines and consult fully with Members,” they continued. “The mere fact that changes to U.S. law
may not be required to implement a final agreement or that ideas are being
exchanged in a ‘white paper’ does not excuse USTR from fulfilling its
obligation to consult–in detail, including by sharing any and all text and
specific proposals–in a timely fashion, throughout a negotiation.”
Congress has primary authority to
regulate tariffs and commerce with foreign nations under Article I, Section 8
of the Constitution. It delegates authority to the executive branch, with the
requirement that it be consulted about trade policies.
Read the letter here.