Bill would require trade deals to be publicly available before fast-track vote

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A bipartisan group of lawmakers is calling for a change to House rules to require the administration to make all trade deals publicly available for 60 days before they could be approved using fast-track authority.

The resolution, titled the Trade Review Accountability Needs Sunlight and Preview of Any Regulations and Exact Negotiated Components, was introduced by Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio).

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In a statement, Kaptur criticized fast-track, also known as trade promotion authority (TPA), which would grant President Obama the power to send trade deals to Congress for up-or-down votes. Congress could also not amend trade deals submitted under fast-track. 

 “Today it has become more of a blank check for the executive and turned Congress into little more than a rubber stamp,” Kaptur said. “This legislation calls for an end to this dangerous and irresponsible approach and replaces it with sunlight in the form of public access and accountability.”

The House is expected to vote on fast-track as early as Thursday, and opponents have argued that the administration is not providing enough transparency on the deals it is negotiating. 

Members of Congress have only been allowed to review text of the emerging Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal in a classified setting. 

“We can all agree that these trade agreements will have a significant economic impact,” Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) added. “Given that fact, before Congress takes a vote on TPA, or any other trade measure, the American people deserve to see what these agreements contain.”

Fifteen other lawmakers have co-sponsored the resolution, including Reps. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), Mark Takai (D-Hawaii), Richard Nolan (D-Minn.), Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), Ted Yoho (R-Fla.), Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), David McKinley (R-W.Va.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), Scott Perry (R-Pa.) and Steve Russell (R-Okla.).

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