May 19, 2015

Senators Manchin and Warren Introduce 'Trade Transparency Act'

Legislation would require release of trade deal text before Congress grants fast track

Washington, D.C.Today, U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) introduced the Trade Transparency Act, a bill that would require the President to release the scrubbed bracketed text of any trade agreement at least 60 days before Congress grants fast track authority to grease the skids for approval of that agreement.

“Before any Member of Congress is asked to vote on the most expansive trade bill in U.S. history, the American people deserve to see what is in the bill,” said Senator Manchin. “If President Bush was willing to pull back the curtain and allow the American people to view the entire Free Trade Area of the Americas agreement, then President Obama should be willing to do the same before we grant him fast track authority. If this bill is as good for the American worker as proponents have claimed, then the Administration should let the American worker see the details before Congress is forced to grant the President Trade Promotion Authority.”

“The Trade Transparency Act would ensure that experts, the press, and the public can engage in meaningful debate over the terms of trade deals before Congress reduces its ability to shape, amend, or block those deals,” said Senator Warren. “Before Congress ties its hands on trade deals, the American people should be allowed to see for themselves whether these agreements are good for them.”

Congress is currently considering Fast Track legislation to facilitate approval of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a massive 12-country trade agreement. While negotiations over the TPP are nearly complete, the agreement remains classified, and there are no plans to make any of it public before Congress approves fast track, which would make it impossible for legislators to amend, and more difficult for legislators to block, final approval of the TPP. 

In 2001, President George W. Bush made public the scrubbed bracketed text of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (“FTAA”) agreement months before Congress granted fast track authority for that agreement. The Trade Transparency Act would make such disclosure a regular part of current and future trade negotiations.

Senators Manchin and Warren will seek congressional approval of the measure before Congress completes its work on pending Fast Track legislation.

Read the text of the legislation here.