Boehner Defends Secrecy Of Trade Talks

Kerry Picket Political Reporter
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WASHINGTON — House Speaker John Boehner said Thursday that members of Congress do not want to reveal their positions are on the current negotiations to give President Obama broader authority on trade agreements.

Boehner said this in response to The Daily Caller’s question about the secrecy surrounding the development of so-called “trade promotion authority,” or TPA, which would allow the president to reach a trade deal with a foreign nation that would only require an up-or-down vote from Congress. Congress would not be allowed to filibuster the agreement.

“There’s a trade negotiation going on, and like any negotiation that goes on, you don’t want to air out what everyone’s positions are,” Boehner told reporters. “That’s not what we’re voting on. By passing trade promotion authority, it will actually give Congress more openness — more involvement in what the trade agreement may look like if we ever get one, and goal posts along the way.”

“So if, in fact, there’s going to be a trade agreement with the Asians or trade agreement with the Europeans, trade promotion authority allows us here in the Congress to outline what those goal posts should be — what the objectives should be — and gives us a part in helping advise the administration in the development of our position and in those discussions,” Boehner added. “Without trade promotion authority, we’re never going to know what’s there.”

Some rank-and-file members of Congress have complained about the lack of transparency in putting together the TPA legislation.

One such complaint came Wednesday night during a Rules Committee hearing on TPA.

“I appreciate all of that but again, you read through this language down in the secret room, and I welcome the day when people can read it,” committee member and Texas Republican Rep. Michael Burgess told Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan.

“By the way, TPA — it’s declassified and made public once it’s agreed to,” Ryan responded.

If TPA is passed, the president will be able to propose a final trade deal, like the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, to Congress.

Those not supporting TPA say that the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would affect 40 percent of the U.S. economy, say Congress would be helpless to change the final agreement, and would have to accept or reject it in its complete form.