On Tuesday, a Bipartisan group of Senate Finance Committee Members called on the U.S. Trade Representative for improve transparency. Led by Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden, of Oregon, and Ranking Member, Idaho’s, Mike Crapo, and New Jersey senator Bob Menendez, the lawmakers sent a letter to the U.S. Trade Representative asking the office to dramatically improve transparency and consultation with Congress on pending trade negotiations. The bipartisan senators cited recent 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.

“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,” the 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.

Click Here to read the letter sent to USTR Katherine Tai.

The letter was also signed sent today with Senators Charles Grassley (Iowa), Catherine Cortez Masto (Nevada), and Ben Sasse (Nebraska).

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