By Vicki Needham - 04/02/14 01:21 PM EDT
A Senate hearing to discuss the Obama administration’s ambitious trade agenda has been postponed so the panel can consider a slew of expired tax provisions.
U.S. Trade Representative Michael FromanMichael FromanDems push for US, EU cooperation on China's market status US, EU team up on raw minerals trade case against China Ryan leaves open possibility of a vote on Pacific trade deal this year MORE was set to testify before the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday but the hearing has been rescheduled for April 30 so the panel can deal with a tax extenders bill instead, according to a Wednesday statement.
The White House’s trade agenda has moved to a back burner on Capitol Hill while Finance Chairman Ron WydenRon WydenDems push for US, EU cooperation on China's market status Senate Dems push Obama for more Iran transparency Watchdog faults Energy Department over whistleblower retaliation MORE (D-Ore.) hashes out details of a trade promotion authority bill.
After taking the gavel in February, Wyden said he would take his time in talking to Senate and House lawmakers about what they want to see in a bill that would allow Congress to fast-track any completed trade agreements.
Former panel Chairman Max BaucusMax BaucusGlover Park Group now lobbying for Lyft Wyden unveils business tax proposal College endowments under scrutiny MORE, who left Congress to become the U.S. ambassador to China, introduced legislation in January with top panel Republican Orrin HatchOrrin HatchBacteria found ahead of Olympics underscores need for congressional action for new antibiotics Burr pledges to retire after one more Senate term Leaders appoint allies, adversaries to Puerto Rico growth task force MORE (Utah) and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.), which received a chilly reception from many congressional Democrats.
Some Democrats have expressed concern about provisions that ensure in-depth congressional involvement in the process.
To that end, Froman and several other Obama Cabinet officials have canvassed Capitol Hill in recent months to discuss details of the two massive trade pacts in the works — the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the United States and the 28-nation European Union.
Hatch is among other Republican lawmakers who have called on President Obama and his top officials to press harder for the sale of trade promotion authority legislation and completion of broader trade agenda, which they argue will spur economic growth.
Obama will take a four-nation tour later this month around the Asia-Pacific where he will meet with top leaders including Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to discuss the TPP deal among other strategic issues.
Trade experts have said that any breakthroughs between the U.S. and Japan on a variety of market access issues will be crucial in propelling the TPP talks to completion sometime this year.
U.S. and Japanese officials have continued their talks, which are being held on a parallel track to the TPP discussions, about market access issues but haven’t made much progress over sticky agricultural and auto issues.