By Vicki Needham
A top House Democrat is asking the Obama administration to keep the nation's financial regulations out of trade talks with the European Union.
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), ranking member of the House Financial Services Committee, sent a letter on Tuesday to President Obama urging him to avoid a situation in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations that would undermine the Dodd-Frank financial rules.
"I understand that the administration is being pressured to introduce financial regulatory issues into these negotiations in a manner that could undermine those reforms and ongoing multilateral harmonization work in this area," Waters wrote.
"I believe this would be a serious error, and I strongly urge you to reject such an approach."
Waters argues that U.S. officials have already received commitments from all Group of 20 and Financial Stability Board members to raise their standards to improved levels being implemented under Dodd-Frank.
"Parallel and potentially conflicting negotiations between the U.S. and Europe would be counterproductive," she wrote.
"These are not uniquely bilateral issues, and it is crucial that we maintain a multilateral focus so that all of the countries in the G-20, not just EU members, implement these commitments in a globally consistent manner."
She said those talks are expected to be completed on a faster timeline that the U.S.-EU deal, which could take upward of two years. Several European leaders, including British Prime Minister David Cameron, are pressing for a faster resolution, down to about a year.
"We would be ill advised to delay that progress. I urge you to keep financial regulatory areas subject to other negotiations out of the TTIP process," Waters wrote.
Michael Froman, the president's nominee to become the next U.S.Trade Representative, said during his confirmation hearing earlier this month the Dodd-Frank financial law will not be watered down in any trade talks.
"There's nothing that we are going to do through a trade agreement to weaken our financial regulation, to roll back Dodd-Frank or to roll back the efforts that the administration and Congress have worked on for the last four years to reform our financial regulatory system here and to work through the G-20 and other mechanisms to raise the standards around the world," Froman said.
On Monday, President Obama joined EU leaders during the Group of Eight summit in Northern Ireland to announce the start of negotiations for the week of July 8 in Washington.