Backstory: Trump administration officials are expected to meet on Friday to discuss and potentially approve withdrawing from the World Trade Organization’s Government Procurement Agreement, two former trade officials told POLITICO.
The Trump administration has long flirted with the idea of withdrawing from the GPA, which also sets rules ensuring open, fair and transparent competition conditions in covered government procurement activities. The U.S. is a founding member of the pact, which has 47 other members, including the 27 nations of the European Union.
Called out-of-bounds: Senate Finance Chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who is currently being treated for the coronavirus, said he strongly opposed the White House taking action which clearly lies in the jurisdiction of Congress.
“Congress approved the WTO agreements. Both by law and the Constitution, only Congress can decide to end U.S. participation in those agreements,” Grassley said in a statement late Wednesday.
“The relevant statute says congressional approval shall cease to be effective ‘if, and only if’ a joint resolution is enacted to that effect. Congress has spoken — and recently — by declining to act on such a resolution earlier this summer,” the senior Republican said.
Next step: If Trump were to withdraw on Friday, it would take effect on Jan. 19, one day before Biden is sworn into office.
Neither the White House nor the USTR office has responded to queries about the expected meeting. The Biden transition team declined to comment on whether the United States should remain in the pact or withdraw.
“We’re not going to weigh in on this question given our posture that there is one president at a time,” a Biden spokesperson said.