After all, it’s not as if the TPP establishes corporate rule over international law, or anything crazy like that!
WASHINGTON — A Democratic congressman has accused the Obama administration of dodging his request for “unimpeded” access to two controversial trade agreements — reigniting a dispute over transparency as the president presses legislators for so-called “fast-track” authority, which would block members of Congress from offering amendments to either deal.
Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee, wants to view an unredacted copy of the proposed text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership(TTIP). He wants to bring his chief of staff, who has a top security clearance, and he wants to be able to take notes privately. He also wants to review documents that show the position of each country participating in the agreements, as well how the U.S. position has changed over the course of the negotiations.
In a letter this week, Doggett accused Michael Froman, the United States Trade Representative (USTR), of avoiding his requests since January. “USTR has provided no legal justification for denying such Member and staff review,” wrote Doggett.
The text of TPP is treated as a state secret — to a degree. Access to TPP texts is limited to members of Congress and staffers on the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee who have an official security clearance. Hundreds of corporate lobbyists and executives are also given access, along with dozens of representatives of labor unions, nonprofits and other consumer groups.
But exactly which congressional offices can see the texts has become a point of frequent contention between the White House and members of the legislative branch — particularly Obama’s fellow Democrats.