Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) sent a letter yesterday to US Trade Representative Michael Froman regarding possible legislation that would allow President Obama to have the authority to fast track trade negotiations. Sanders is concerned that this could “pave the way” for the passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement (TPP), which Sanders has spoken out against numerous times.
The TPP would be the “largest free trade agreement in history encompassing 12 nations that account for nearly 40 percent of the global economy.” Sanders wrote to Froman that he was concerned that the text of the TPP had not been made public, despite the fact that the “leaders of the major corporate interests who stand to gain enormous financial benefits from this agreement are actively involved in the writing of the TPP.”
“The only text I am aware of that has been made public so far has been through leaked documents,” wrote Sanders, “and I find what I read to be very troubling.”
“The TPP is not just another free trade agreement,” the letter read. “It has broad economic and political implications for the entire economy, national sovereignty, healthcare, the environment, national security, and the Federal budget, among many other issues. It goes without saying that the American people and their elected officials have a right to know what is in this agreement before fast track is voted on.”
Sanders then requested a copy of the “full composite bracketed text, without redactions, of the TPP,” and that his staff and experts of his choosing be allowed access as well. Sanders also called on Froman to provide an explanation if his request were to be denied, including the “statutory prohibition or internal guidelines” which prevent the sharing of the agreement.
The senator continued,
“Please also explain why you think it is appropriate that the representatives of the largest financial institutions, pharmaceutical companies, oil companies, media conglomerates, and other major corporate interests not only have access to some of these documents, but are also playing a major role in developing the key provisions in it. Meanwhile, the people who will suffer the consequences of this treat have been shot out of this process. In my view, this is simply unacceptable.”
“Let me be very clear,” Sanders concluded. “If you chose not to release this information, I will [work] … on legislation to require that the entire content of any trade agreement being negotiated be made public at the request of any Member of Congress. And I, for one, will certainly make that request.”
Read the senator’s full letter here.