Republican presidential hopeful Sen. Rand PaulRand PaulRand Paul to teach a course on dystopias in George Washington University Destructive 'fat cat' tax law a complete flop. It's time to repeal it. Trump must take action in Macedonia to fix damage done by Obama and Clinton MORE says he will oppose granting President Obama fast-track authority.
Paul expressed frustration about the lack of access to the text of a massive Asia-Pacific trade agreement in explaining why he would oppose fast-track, which is backed by Republican leaders in the House and Senate.
“I’m hesitant to give blanket authority on stuff we haven’t seen,” he said.
Fast-track would allow Obama to send the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal to Congress for an up-or-down vote. Without the authority, it is possible the trade negotiations will not even be concluded.
But Paul criticized the administration for not giving out more details about the agreement.
He suggested he could end up voting for the trade deal, but said that he would not back fast-track since the TPP “is being held under lock and key.”
“I’m not saying there wouldn’t be a time I could be for it, if I’d seen the trade agreement, and it’s fine,” he added.
He said the Obama administration doesn’t want to air the TPP to the American people “because they’re afraid that if the public knows what we are going to vote on, that somehow that would destroy the republic.”
Paul’s comments came before a procedural motion on fast-track set for the Senate on Tuesday afternoon.
Paul said that lawmakers must go to the U.S. Trade Representative’s office to read the TPP and aren’t allowed to take notes or bring staffers.
But in March, USTR overhauled the viewing rules and put a copy of the TPP agreement in a security office in the Capitol where lawmakers can view the developing pact along with a member of their staff as long as they meet a certain security requirement.
Matthew McAlvanah, USTR spokesman, countered Paul’s argument about access to the TPP, saying that it is available in the Capitol to read at lawmakers’ convenience.
“Members of Congress can bring staffs and take notes when they review the document,” he said in a statement.
Last fall, in a foreign policy address to The National Interest, Paul urged President Obama to make the U.S. pivot to Asia by completing the TPP.
“Instead of just talking about a so-called pivot to Asia the Obama administration should prioritize negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership by year’s end,” he said.
“Trade is a critical element of building a productive relationship with other nations, including China,” he said.