May 10, 2022

Cortez Masto Joins Colleagues in Bipartisan Letter Calling for Improved Transparency from U.S. Trade Representative

Senators cite failure to consult with Congress on recent trade negotiations

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) joined Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) in calling on the U.S. Trade Representative to dramatically improve transparency and consultation with Congress on pending trade negotiations. The bipartisan group of senators cited negotiations to waive intellectual property rules at the World Trade Organization—where details became public before Congress was briefed or shown the text of the agreement—as a recent example of the executive branch failing to adequately consult with Congress. 

“We want to ensure that this failure to consult properly with Congress will not be replicated in other areas, particularly as the Administration seeks to launch new trade negotiations under the auspices of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, pursue multilateral and plurilateral negotiations at the WTO, and engage in bilateral discussions with countries such as the United Kingdom,” the senators wrote

“As such, we believe that the Administration must follow both the letter and the spirit of the Transparency Principles and Guidelines and consult fully with Members,” they continued. “The mere fact that changes to U.S. law may not be required to implement a final agreement or that ideas are being exchanged in a ‘white paper’ does not excuse USTR from fulfilling its obligation to consult — in detail, including by sharing any and all text and specific proposals — in a timely fashion, throughout a negotiation.”

Congress has primary authority to regulate tariffs and commerce with foreign nations under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. It delegates authority to the executive branch, with the requirement that it be consulted about trade policies. 

Senator Cortez Masto has worked to boost American competitiveness and equity through trading negotiations. She helped pass the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, and she’s currently pushing to pass legislation to boost American competitiveness and counter the Chinese government’s efforts to influence technology, research, and labor standards. She ensured provisions in the global competitiveness bill that is currently being debated to promote human rights and the economic empowerment of women and address discrimination in our nation’s trade and development program.