Dem: Tech knows more about trade deal than Congress does

The technology industry knows more about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal that many members of Congress, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) said Wednesday. 

Speier, who opposes President Obama’s plan to fast-track the deal through Congress, has lamented the secrecy surrounding the draft text of the trade agreement.

{mosads}”This process has been going on for a long time without our benefit. I was sitting in a meeting with tech execs from the valley who knew more about the TPP than I did,” she said on the “The Bill Press Show.”

“Because they’re the ones drafting it,” she told Press, who is a columnist for The Hill. 

“I think we’ve got to go back to you know a Democratic process to forge a deal that will provide for TPP and the kind of transparency that we expect.”

The Senate passed the fast track trade promotion authority last month but it faces opposition from most Democrats and some Republicans in the House.  

The trade deal is a priority for major tech companies, which have said the growth of the Internet is dependent on strong U.S. trade policy. They have pressed for Congress to give the administration fast-track authority, but have also called for strengthened provisions on things like copyright law. 

During the interview, Speier lamented the rules regarding Congress’s access to the draft text of the underlying trade deal. Lawmakers cannot bring in staff or take out any material from a secure room at the Capitol, where the text is kept. 

Speier dedicated an hour to view the text, but realized the document, which is broken into six volumes, is too much for most lawmakers to digest on their own. The summary runs 60 pages. 

That may be why in late April only about 40 House members had asked to view the document. Wikileaks this week offered a $100,000 bounty for a copy it could make public. 

The administration has been aggresive in pushing back on opposition. The Office of the United States Trade Representative on Wednesday took issue with Speier’s comments. The office noted that while lawmakers can view the actual text under limited circumstances, members of the tech industry who are part of a trade advisory committee established by congress are allowed to see only negotiating proposals.

“The truth is that Members of Congress have more access to the draft TPP negotiation text than anyone else,” a spokesperson said.  

— Updated at 4:05 p.m.

Tags Jackie Speier Trans-Pacific Partnership

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