Hatch questions Obama's decision not to consult Congress on trade negotiations with Tajikistan

“The Obama administration plans to approve Tajikistan joining the WTO,” Hatch said on the floor Wednesday. “I support efforts to advance the rule of law by bringing more countries into the process. ... What troubles me is that the president has been negotiating without anyone in the Senate Finance Committee knowing.”

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Hatch said it’s a poor policy not to involve Congress in negotiating trade deals, since the Congress has to approve trade agreements.

“We found out last week,” Hatch said. “Why the Obama administration waited five additional weeks after completing Tajikistan’s WTO accession negotiations before notifying the committee is a mystery to me."

Hatch said he hopes the administration not communicating with lawmakers was an exception rather than a new norm and that he plans to send a letter to the U.S. trade representative to encourage more open discussions with lawmakers.

“As we continue to try to work with the Obama administration to develop policies and advance legislation which create economic growth and open new markets for U.S. workers and job-creators, the administration must engage in meaningful consultations,” Hatch said.

Hatch added that the president should request a renewal of the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), allowing Congress to approve trade deals in an up-or-down vote without any amendments.

“The time for meaningful talks about TPA is now,” Hatch said. “We need to get real on international trade.”

—The article was updated at 4:45 p.m.