Showing posts with label Secretary of State John Kerry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Secretary of State John Kerry. Show all posts

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Extreme secrecy eroding support for Obama's trade pact

President Barack Obama speaks at a ceremony marking the 10th anniversary of the formation for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. | Getty
If you want to hear the details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal the Obama administration is hoping to pass, you’ve got to be a member of Congress, and you’ve got to go to classified briefings and leave your staff and cellphone at the door.

If you’re a member who wants to read the text, you’ve got to go to a room in the basement of the Capitol Visitor Center and be handed it one section at a time, watched over as you read, and forced to hand over any notes you make before leaving.

And no matter what, you can’t discuss the details of what you’ve read.

“It’s like being in kindergarten,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), who’s become the leader of the opposition to President Barack Obama’s trade agenda. “You give back the toys at the end.”

For those out to sink Obama’s free trade push, highlighting the lack of public information is becoming central to their opposition strategy: The White House isn’t even telling Congress what it’s asking for, they say, or what it’s already promised foreign governments.

The White House has been coordinating an administration-wide lobbying effort that’s included phone calls and briefings from Secretary of State John Kerry, Labor Secretary Tom Perez, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker and others. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has been working members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Juli├ín Castro has been talking to members of his home state Texas delegation.

Officials from the White House and the United States trade representative’s office say they’ve gone farther than ever before to provide Congress the information it needs and that the transparency complaints are just the latest excuse for people who were never going to vote for a new trade deal anyway.

“We’ve worked closely with congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle to balance unprecedented access to classified documents with the appropriate level of discretion that’s needed to ensure Americans get the best deal possible in an ongoing, high-stakes international negotiation,” said USTR spokesman Matt McAlvanah.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Kerry to sign UN arms treaty opposed by Senate, NRA

Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to sign an arms trade treaty opposed by the Senate and the gun lobby as early as Wednesday, and Republicans aren't happy about it.

Kerry's plan to sign the treaty on the margins of the U.N. General Assembly in New York City this week has sparked immediate criticism from GOP opponents. 

“This treaty is already dead in the water in the Senate, and they know it,” said Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services. “The Administration is wasting precious time trying to sign away our laws to the global community and unelected U.N. bureaucrats.”

A majority of Senate oppose the treaty because it covers small arms, making ratification impossible in the short term.

Kerry had already announced in June that the administration would sign the treaty as soon as it was satisfied with its translations into the different official U.N. languages. Reuters reported that he is likely to sign the treaty this week.

The news sparked immediate criticism from Republicans. 

An Inhofe amendment to the Senate Budget resolution in March blocking the U.S. from joining the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty garnered 53 “yes” votes.

The National Rifle Association insists the pact is a U.N.-backed gun grab. Advocates of the treaty say it's only aimed at regulating international sales to prevent terrorists and other rogue actors from getting their hands on weapons.

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