WASHINGTON, Feb. 25, 2015 – The Senate Finance Committee postponed a trade hearing set for Thursday, a sign that talks are progressing on a bill to provide President Obama with the negotiating authority needed to complete a Pacific Rim trade deal.
The committee’s ranking Democrat, Ron Wyden of Oregon, has yet to agree to the terms of the fast-track legislation, and complained last Friday that the hearing would be premature.
“Given concerns expressed by Senator Wyden, we're going to postpone tomorrow's hearing and continue our discussion on how best to advance America’s trade agenda, including legislation to renew job-creating Trade Promotion Authority,” said Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.
Wyden this week declined to talk about his negotiations except to say that they are continuing.
A TPA law provides congressional instructions for trade deals and would allow Congress only an up-or-down vote on the final agreement. U.S. negotiators are seeking final concessions from Japan and Canada to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership
During a congressional delegation’s meetings in Japan last week, officials there appeared to suggest they were waiting to make their final offer until TPA is finalized, according to Rep. Adrian Smith, a Nebraska Republican who is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee. Passage of TPA provides Japan a "much bigger reason ... to step forward with their best offer," Smith said.