By Vicki Needham - 08/24/11 06:14 PM EDT
He said his staff has been briefed only once, and at their request.
Passing the free-trade deals is a better way to create jobs than “relying on a new federal bureaucracy to enhance competitiveness,” Hatch wrote.
The senator argued that the solution to U.S. trade competitiveness “lies in fighting to aggressively open foreign markets to U.S. exports” and will come about “through negotiation and implementation of strong international trade agreements,” not by creating new federal departments.
“Over the past several weeks you have made it clear that these agreements are ‘ready to go,’ and called upon Congress to take them up,” Hatch wrote to the president.
“Of course, you and your team know that Congress cannot take those agreements up under Trade Promotion Authority until you first submit them to Congress. I urge you to take advantage of our eagerness to do so and submit each of these agreements to Congress at the earliest possible time.”
During his State of the Union address in January, Obama called for the reorganization to be designed to increase “trade, exports and our overall competitiveness.”
According to an Aug. 13 New York Times story, the administration may choose to merge the Department of Commerce, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and some economic divisions at the State Department into a new agency, administration officials said. Possible names include the Department of Jobs or the Department of Competitiveness.
“I expect to engage in full consultations before any proposal to reorganize U.S. trade agencies into a ‘Department of Jobs,’ ‘Department of Competitiveness’ or any other new federal bureaucracy is proposed,” Hatch wrote.
“I am deeply concerned about any proposals to place the Office of the United States Trade Representative into any other agency. This small but highly effective agency is one of the few bright spots in an otherwise bloated bureaucracy.”