The Obama administration on Wednesday offered new concessions in a bid for Democratic support for new trade deals, but in-person meetings from high-ranking officials—and promises of more access to inside information on the negotiations—were not enough to win over some of the president's fellow Democrats.
U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman had two meetings with House Democrats Wednesday, one accompanied by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and the other by Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, among others. Both were related to the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free-trade agreement among 12 Asia-Pacific countries, including the United States, Australia, Japan, and Mexico. The meetings were first reported by The Hill newspaper.
As a part of the meeting, the officials also granted members of Congress more access to documents related to the negotiations—a response to criticism from members that they've lacked information about the negotiations.
Froman told reporters after the meeting with House Democrats that Perez said the Obama administration had worked with committees to make certain changes to increase accessibility. "We decided today to move forward with some early actions in this area by making the text available in the security office, having plain language summaries of each chapter to help facilitate members' understanding and access to the text," Froman said, adding that members will be allowed to bring staff with appropriate security clearances.