Congressman Mark Pocan

Representing the 2nd District of Wisconsin
Twitter icon
Facebook icon
Instagram icon
YouTube icon
RSS icon

Democrats Call on Administration to Release Confidential Labor Advisory Committee Report

Jun 11, 2015
Press Release

Washington, D.C – Today, 15 House Democrats led by U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan (WI-02) sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman urging the public release of the Labor Advisory Committee (LAC) report pertaining to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).  The Labor Advisory Committee is an official body tasked with advising the United States Trade Representative (USTR) on labor provisions in trade negotiations.

 Last fall, LAC members compiled a report outlining specific criticisms of the Trans-Pacific Partnership text and detailing how their recommendations were not included in the agreement. Until recently, the document was inaccessible to Members of Congress; the general public and most Congressional staff still do not have access to the full report. Unfortunately, the USTR has classified key parts of the report.

As Congress considers granting fast-track authority for this trade agreement, it is imperative the public has access to the entirety of the information in the LAC interim report. The consideration of any trade deal, and especially one as far-reaching as the TPP, requires a transparent discussion about the strength of labor standards and their impact on workers.

 

Full text of the letter is below.

Dear Ambassador Froman:

We write to urge you to publicly release several documents from the Labor Advisory Committee on Trade Negotiations and Trade Policy (LAC), dealing with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), including any documents received from the LAC or any its members dated April 13, 2015 (whether in modified or unmodified form), any correspondence from LAC members dated September 3, 2014, and any related annexes.

While Congress considers Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), the TPP agreement being negotiated is the largest free trade agreement in history, covering 40 percent of world GDP.  With the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) being simultaneously negotiated, that total rises to 60 percent. That makes it all the more important that trade agreements be done right.  With such huge implications for the TPP, we feel it is necessary for both Congress and the public to have the opportunity to adequately review concerns and issues raised in the LAC documents.  This will help better inform us as we consider TPA and its application to TPP. 

While we understand these materials may be made available to Members of Congress, they would not be available to staff without security clearance, and even those staff would further be restricted from viewing it if not in the presence of their Member.  In many instances in the House of Representatives, Members rely on the expert advice of their designated trade staff—who more often than not do not have that clearance.  This significantly hampers the ability of Members of Congress to properly and thoroughly analyze important trade documents.

We understand that multilateral negotiations must at times maintain a balance, but also believe the advice provided by the LAC in the requested documents would offer us important insights as to how TPP could affect millions of middle class Americans.

Failure to make this information available publicly prior to a vote on TPA, as was done in the Senate, despite 21 senators requesting it, would interfere with Congress’s ability to properly exercise its obligations to oversee foreign commerce.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

 

___________________________                              ___________________________

Mark Pocan                                                                 John Conyers

Member of Congress                                                   Member of Congress

 

 

___________________________                              ___________________________

Peter A. DeFazio                                                        Rosa L. DeLauro

Member of Congress                                                   Member of Congress

 

 

___________________________                              ___________________________

Debbie Dingell                                                            Luis V. Gutierrez

Member of Congress                                                   Member of Congress

 

 

___________________________                              ___________________________

Marcy Kaptur                                                              Daniel T. Kildee

Member of Congress                                                   Member of Congress

 

 

___________________________                              ___________________________

Alan S. Lowenthal                                                      Jim McDermott

Member of Congress                                                   Member of Congress

 

 

___________________________                              ___________________________

James P. McGovern                                                    Jerrold Nadler

Member of Congress                                                   Member of Congress

 

 

___________________________                              ___________________________

Robert C. “Bobby” Scott                                            Chris Van Hollen

Member of Congress                                                   Member of Congress

 

___________________________                              ___________________________

Juan Vargas                                                                 Maxine Waters

Member of Congress                                                   Member of Congress