WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Ranking Member Mike Crapo, (R-Idaho), and 18 bipartisan members raised Constitutional concerns about the process to approve and implement the proposed Indo-Pacific Economic Framework for Prosperity (IPEF), as well as the need for the administration to increase consultation and transparency.
In a letter to President Biden, the members noted that they support efforts to strengthen ties with allies in the Indo-Pacific and address issues like strengthening supply chains, growing American jobs and expanding digital trade. However, they reminded the administration that Congress holds ultimate responsibility for approving trade pacts, regardless of whether they include tariff reduction or market access provisions.
“There is no question that comprehensive free trade agreements that include reciprocal tariff reductions and dispute resolution mechanisms must be approved and implemented by Congress,” the members wrote. “However, there appears to be a misunderstanding as to whether an agreement like IPEF, which aims to regulate foreign commerce and reshape international trade flows, requires similar approval. It does.”
While neither the administration nor Congress has announced a process to approve and implement IPEF, Finance Committee leaders urged the president to engage in robust consultation with Congress, transparency of negotiations and collaboration with Congress on how the agreement should be approved and implemented.
The letter is cosigned by U.S. Senators Debbie Stabenow, (D-Mich.), Chuck Grassley, (R-Iowa), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), and John Barrasso (R-Wyo).
Read the full letter here.