Dem pans Obama's new trade liaison

Dem pans Obama's new trade liaison

A House Democrat is calling on the Obama administration to provide more details about global trade agreements and dismissing efforts to create a special liaison to Congress.

Rep. Lloyd DoggettLloyd Alton DoggettDemocrats give Trump trade chief high marks House panel approves bills on tax extenders, expanding tax credits First major 'Medicare for All' hearing sharpens attacks on both sides MORE (D-Texas) on Friday called Tim Reif’s appointment as the U.S. Trade Representative's (USTR) chief transparency officer this week "a meaningless response to my demands for greater congressional and public access.”

“If it desired, USTR could grant greater access immediately, without fancy titles,” Doggett said. “The true function of whoever wears this hat is to continue engaging in as much bureaucratic obstruction as possible."

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Doggett said that, for example, the USTR has refused his requests for congressional access to the most current version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement text and has not given Congress any proposals regarding implementation by Vietnam, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru or Brunei.

Doggett's remarks come after U.S. Trade Representative Michael FromanMichael B.G. FromanDemocrats give Trump trade chief high marks US trade rep spent nearly M to furnish offices: report Overnight Finance: Trump hits China on currency manipulation, countering Treasury | Trump taps two for Fed board | Tax deadline revives fight over GOP overhaul | Justices set to hear online sales tax case MORE announced on Thursday that Reif — who is USTR general counsel — would also step in as the transparency officer, a job established by the trade promotion authority law signed this summer by President Obama.

But Doggett, a Ways and Means Committee member who opposes TPP and voted against fast-track, stood alone in his opposition.

Two other high-ranking Democrats, House Ways and Means Committee ranking member Rep. Sander Levin (Mich.) and Trade Subcommittee ranking member Rep. Charles Rangel (N.Y.), who also opposed fast-track, backed the decision to give Reif the job.

“His many years working with members of Congress will help the administration determine how to enhance the transparency of U.S. trade policy, a vital area in need of improvement,” Levin said.

“The chief transparency officer will need to be given the resources and authority to ensure a much more effective and open exchange of information between USTR and members of Congress, stakeholders and the public on a broad range of outstanding issues in the Trans-Pacific Partnership."

Rangel said that Reif’s many years working closely with Congress will “serve him well in this role and I look forward to continuing to work with him in his new capacity."

On Thursday, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who co-authored the fast-track trade law and has pushed for greater transparency, praised the move.

Before joining the USTR in 2009 as general counsel, Reif served as chief international trade counsel for the Ways and Means Committee.

This story was updated at 4:44 p.m.