On Wednesday, legislation was introduced by Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, which would protest the refusal of the Obama administration to offer information about trade negotiations. There is a blockade against Wyden, who is the chair of a subcommittee on international trade. Wyden claims that his office was not allowed to see information regarding a possible pact known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which includes eight Pacific nations. The pact would stop ‘Buy American’ preferences for United States manufacturers and ban intellectual property standards that would ultimately increase the cost of prescription drugs across the world.
“The majority of Congress is being kept in the dark as to the substance of the TPP negotiations, while representatives of U.S. corporations — like Halliburton, Chevron, PhRMA, Comcast and the Motion Picture Association of America — are being consulted and made privy to details of the agreement,” Wyden said.
Obama received a letter recently from 60 House Democrats and one House Republican that objected to the ban on ‘Buy American.’ Darrell Issa, a Republican from California and the House Oversight Committee Chairman, asked for better transparency in the negotiations and also posted the draft of the chapter regarding intellectual property on his website.
“U.S. TPP documents are available to members of Congress representing all Americans,” USTR said in a statement. Wyden’s office continues to claim that the administration has shared the information only with 12 members of Congress, which increases legal arguments that the only people in Congress allowed to see documents regarding trade are from the Congressional Oversight Group. A law passed in 2002 requires that all those in Congress should have access to trade documents.
The obstruction being committed by the Obama administration was discussed in a statement issued by Wyden’s office sent to the Huffington Post. The statement was issued by Wyden spokesperson Jennifer Hoelzer.
“Months ago, we were told our staffer could only view the documents if he got a clearance. So, he applied for the appropriate security clearance which was completed two months ago. Now, after two months of back and forth to try and get this resolved, it seems that the Administration is interpreting that 2002 law to say that only members on the Congressional Oversight Group or who work for members of the COG are allowed to see the agreements. If that is in fact their interpretation, it means that neither Senator Wyden nor his trade subcommittee staff are allowed to review documents pertaining to trade agreements.”