Senate confirms Obama's new trade rep Froman
The Senate confirmed White House adviser Michael Froman as the new US trade representative Wednesday, just as Washington launches free trade talks with the European Union.
Some key Democrats, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, bucked President Barack Obama and opposed Froman for his refusal to agree to be more transparent in trade deals, particularly the huge Pacific trade agreement currently under negotiation.
Warren joined several fellow Democrats in the Senate and House in voicing alarm to Obama over the Trans-Pacific Partnership, warning of the poor transparency record of the Office of the US Trade Representative.
She sent a letter to Froman last week asking whether he would make negotiation texts available to the public, but she said he declined to do so.
The lawmakers vowed to resist efforts to give Obama "fast-track" trade promotion authority -- which would let his team negotiate a deal, with Congress then voting up or down without the opportunity to make changes.
Froman, who succeeds Ron Kirk as trade representative, was confirmed by a 93-4 vote, with three Democrats including Warren and independent Senator Bernie Sanders voting "no."
Froman is a former managing director at Citigroup, which received a $45 billion government rescue package in 2008 during the financial crisis, and his tenure at the too-big-to-fail bank has raised eyebrows.
He joined the Obama administration in 2009, serving as deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs.
On Monday, the European Union and the United States launched long-awaited formal negotiations to create what would be the world's biggest ever free trade area, with the first round of talks taking place next month.