Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) blocked legislation from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Thursday that could have complicated ongoing trade talks by demanding public disclosure of deals before they get “fast-track” status.
Warren and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) pushed a measure that would have let the public see the details of a trade deal before lawmakers decide whether or not to designate it as fast-track, which allows for congressional approval by a simple majority vote and prohibits lawmakers from offering amendments.
But Hatch objected to her request, blocking Warren’s bill from passing. The trade promotion authority (TPA) legislation currently being considered by the Senate would require the president to have to post the details of any trade deal for 60 days before signing it.
Unlike Warren’s bill, though, the current trade legislation automatically grants fast-track status to agreements.
Warren’s bill would likely complicate the ongoing trade talks with 11 Asia-Pacific countries; the administration has insisted that fast-track it is crucial to the deal being finalized.
The Utah Republican said that if senators are concerned about the level of transparency on trade agreements, they should support the current legislation.
“[But] those who oppose TPA and trade agreements outright will likely continue to use the supposed lack of transparency as an excuse to oppose the bill,” Hatch said.
But Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) dismissed Hatch’s argument, saying that concerns over transparency are “not a partisan issue.”
“I respect my president. I’ve talked to him and I know in his heart he’s doing what he thinks is right, but he says this isn’t secret and everyone’s got access to it,” Boxer said. “This is not an open process.”
Warren has been at the center of a intraparty fight over the fast track legislation, and she, as well as Boxer and Manchin, voted against ending debate on the current bill earlier Thursday.
Jordain Carney, The Hill