- THE MAGAZINE
A conference call to discuss the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) agreement had Congressional participation cut short as reports of shots fired outside the Capitol put the U.S. Capitol on lockdown.
Prior to the lockdown, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) was commenting that one of the major concerns lawmakers had relative to the current round of negotiations on the TPP and President Obama’s possible attendance at the current round was the lack of transparency.
In response to the issue of possible fast-track authority for an up or down vote by Congress, McDermott said that he had voted for fast track authority in the past and had also voted against it. In this case, there were many gaps where there is no text and he has “become more cautious” with experience and wants to see what is written in the agreement before granting fast track authority that would permit the up/down vote.
The conference call included Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) who spoke to specific concerns over food safety as an example of the lack of transparency and the need for more involvement by lawmakers – but that they need to see the text.
DeLauro added that this is a case where trade is trumping public health. She added that it would add to the burden of the Food and Drug Administration and other inspectors where there is not sufficient capacity to handle the added burden of inspections.
Asked about President Obama’s participation in the trade meeting, McDermott said that he would not want to see the President step back from international issues as important as this. He commented that with all of the technology available, it is still possible for the President to stay in touch with developments in the U.S. government spending debate while attending to the TPP negotiations.