Sen. Brown Blocking Trade Nominee Over TPP Secrecy

Dave Johnson

Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown has put a “hold” on the nomination of Marisa Lago to be deputy U.S. trade representative. Brown says that his trade advisor is not allowed to see text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) unless he is present.

The secrecy surrounding TPP is intense. Senator Brown says that the secrecy surrounding this corporate-dominated “trade” deal is even greater than the government’s controls for Iran work and CIA briefings. One of the secrecy rules is that his staffers cannot see the text without him present, even though they have the required security clearances.

Here’s the thing. Legislators are very busy people. Requiring them to be present while staffers who are versed in the international and trade legalese examine the text of TPP is a way of keeping legislators and their staff from knowing what is in the agreement. On top of that, it is summer recess. Legislators are back in their states and districts now. But right now is when it matters, because the administration is trying to rush the agreement through so they can get a vote before the Presidential campaign season reaches its peak.

According to Huffington Post, in “Why A Democrat Is Now Blocking An Obama Nominee”:

“The administration would rather sacrifice a nominee for a key post than improve transparency of the largest trade agreement ever negotiated,” Brown said in a written statement provided to HuffPost. “Even seasoned policy advisors with the requisite security clearance can’t review text without being accompanied by a member of Congress. It shouldn’t be easier for multinational corporations to get their hands on trade text than for public servants.”

By placing a hold on a nomination, even a single senator can prevent the Senate from giving nominees a confirmation vote. Holds can be removed if 60 senators vote to clear them, but assembling 60 allies has become a daunting task in recent years. Republicans have deployed the tactic aggressively to gum up Obama’s governing ability.

Marisa Lago – Yet Another Citigroup Nominee

The recent post, “Senate Eyes Another Citi Nominee For Deputy Trade Representative,” explained that Lago is yet another nominee from Citigroup,

Ms. Lago was Global Head of Compliance for Citigroup’s corporate and investment bank from 2003 to 2008. She also headed the Office of International Affairs at the Securities and Exchange Commission from 1997 to 2001.

This matters. Another revolving-door Wall Street nominee to a key position.

For better or worse, this nomination of yet another Citigroup alumna to an important position in our government comes at a time when the public has grown suspicious of Wall Street’s influence on our government.

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