Newly tapped Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden reiterated his plan to talk with his Democratic colleagues about trade promotion authority legislation before moving forward.
The pro-trade Oregon Democrat said he first wants to address how the global marketplace has changed since the last fast-track authority bill was passed by Congress in 2002 and factor that into any legislative mechanism.
Those are the efforts needed to forge a bipartisan measure that can get through Congress, Wyden said.
"But the way to get bipartisan legislation moving is to give your colleagues a chance to be brought into the debate and, I will tell you, there needs to be more transparency in this discussion, because most of the Congress — and certainly the country — doesn't even know what's being discussed," he said.
His predecessor, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), who was confirmed by the Senate last week as the U.S. ambassador to China, crafted a bill with Finance ranking member Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.).
The bill is designed to smooth passage of trade deals through Congress, giving lawmakers an up-or-down vote on trade agreements that reach Capitol Hill.
But Wyden has been advocating a more measured approach to discuss issues such as the surge in technology and other trade policy trends that have emerged in the past decade.
He cited, for example, that in 2002, digital trade, such as cloud computing, wasn't even on the radar.
"This is an area where we now lead," he said.
Complicating matters, Wyden said, is that many senators weren't even around a dozen years ago when that last bill was passed — a measure he himself supported.
Wyden said he talked to Hatch on Wednesday night about the need to talk to his colleagues.
"I'm going to give my colleagues an opportunity to talk about these issues, talk with the administration and then we'll go from there."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have come out against that bill, which was was introduced in early January.