Warren clashes with Obama on trade

Warren clashes with Obama on trade
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Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Biden, Congress drawn into pipeline cyberattack, violence in Israel The Memo: Outrage rises among liberals over Israel The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Infrastructure, Cheney ouster on deck as Congress returns MORE (D-Mass.) is locking horns with the Obama administration over possible provisions in forthcoming trade proposals that she says could help multinational corporations at the expense of American workers.

The administration hit back just minutes after Warren signed off a conference call with reporters, releasing information meant to show that President Obama's proposal would increase transparency and protect workers' rights.

Warren has assailed Obama's plans to include in his proposal an international arbitration board for businesses that would settle trade disputes. In Washington, the proposed board is known as "Investor-State Dispute Settlement," or ISDS.

"The name may sound a little wonky, but this is a powerful provision that would tilt the playing field for multinational corporations," Warren told reporters on a conference call sponsored by the left-leaning Alliance for Justice.

She did not take questions from the media after her remarks.

Critics contend that ISDS provisions allow companies to more easily challenge regulations, undermining important worker health and safety protections.

The administration emailed an ISDS fact sheet within minutes after Warren completed the call. They pushed back hard against any notion that ISDS tilts the playing field for corporations.

"ISDS allows for neutral and transparent enforcement of a limited and clearly specified set of basic rights and protections already offered to U.S. and foreign investors alike under U.S. law," officials at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative wrote in a public memo.

It's not the first time that Warren has sparred on trade with the administration. She made similar criticisms against ISDS in an op-ed last month for The Washington Post.

The day after Warren published her op-ed, Jeffrey Zients, director of the National Economic Council, rebutted Warren's ISDS criticisms in a White House blog post.

Obama is trying to build a bipartisan coalition in Congress to pass legislation granting him trade promotion authority (TPA), which gives him expanded powers to negotiate and sign trade agreements.

Warren and other progressives who are aligned with unions argue that the expanded “fast-track” powers could lower wages by putting U.S. workers in competition with low-wage workers overseas. Meanwhile, some conservatives are wary of giving Obama expanded powers without congressional oversight.