Massive trade bill hits Hill

Doug Palmer and Adam Behsudi

Three senior lawmakers on Thursday unveiled long-awaited legislation to help President Barack Obama strike major trade deals in Asia and Europe, setting the stage for a potential election-year battle between the president and many of his fellow Democrats in Congress.

“The TPA [trade promotion authority] legislation we are introducing today will make sure that these trade deals get done, and get done right,” outgoing Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said in a joint statement with the bill’s co-sponsors, House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, the top Republican on the Finance panel.

The bill would aim to address growing concerns about secrecy in trade negotiations by ensuring all members of Congress have access to negotiating texts and can observe trade talks. Other provisions would seek to increase the transparency of negotiations by requiring the Obama administration to consult more with Congress and share more information with the public and advisory committees. It would renew TPA, which expired in 2007, potentially up to seven years.

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