September 22,2021

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Keith Chu (202) 224-4515

Wyden Statement on Senate Floor on Vote to Confirm Jayme White as Deputy USTR

As Prepared for Delivery

Video Available Here

Madam President, today the Senate is considering the nomination of Jayme White for the position of Deputy United States Trade Representative. Senators likely know that Jayme is a member of my Finance Committee staff, so I won’t bury the lead in my remarks today. Jayme will make an exemplary Deputy USTR – a top-notch advocate for America’s workers, businesses, farmers and ranchers. Upon his confirmation, our loss on the Finance Committee will be the American people’s gain. 

I’ll start with a little on Jayme’s background. Jayme is a fellow Pacific Northwesterner, the son of union workers from the Seattle area. He has worked on trade policy for more than 20 years on Capitol Hill. In 2009 I was fortunate to lure him away from his job working for his hometown representative, Congressman Jim McDermott. Since 2014 Jayme has been the top trade and competitiveness advisor for the Senate Finance Committee Democrats. 

That means I’ve had a front-row seat watching Jayme work for more than a decade. Over that time he has worked tirelessly to shape trade negotiations and trade bills in a way that gets better results for workers, for the environment, and for good governance. What’s more, Jayme brings along members from both sides of the aisle to make sure our trade policies are durable for the long-term with bipartisan support. 

One of the many issues where Jayme was way ahead of the pack is the need for aggressive trade enforcement. Years ago when I was Chairman of the trade subcommittee, he helped set up a sting operation that showed how trade cheats overseas were able to launder merchandise and avoid paying customs duties. They’d ship goods through other countries, or slap a new label with different information on their products and manage to slip them into the U.S. market. That experience helped us write and build momentum for trade enforcement legislation called the ENFORCE Act that passed a few years later. 

When the Trump administration’s new NAFTA was weak on enforcement, Jayme and Ambassador Tai worked to make huge improvements. As a direct result of their work, USMCA raises the bar over any other trade agreement in history in terms of enforceable commitments on labor rights and the environment. 

Jayme has also been a real champion of transparency and accountability in trade policy. Gone are the days when well-connected reporters and industry insiders knew more than members of Congress and the American people about what was being negotiated. There are now concrete rules giving members access to negotiating text while negotiations are happening, and final text of trade agreements must be in public view for anybody to see for a minimum of 60 days before they can go to Congress for approval. Those improvements happened because of Jayme’s hard work.

Here’s the bottom line. Jayme knows the formula to getting trade done right. It’s about fighting for trade rules that will raise the bar for worker rights and environmental protection while bulldozing barriers to the products and services we produce here in America. 

It’s about vigorously and relentlessly enforcing the trade rules on the books, so that trade cheats cannot rip off American jobs and innovations. And it’s about maintaining transparency and accountability throughout the process. Those are the priorities that Jayme has been fighting for over his decades on Capitol Hill, and I’m confident that he’ll bring that same commitment to USTR. 

On a personal note, I can tell you that Jayme is the kind of individual that you want representing the United States around the world. He is smart. He is decent. He is honest and hardworking. Although I’ll be very sorry to lose him after 12 years on my staff, I know there are big things ahead for Jayme, and I know he’s an excellent choice for this job. Twenty five members of the Finance Committee agreed with me when they voted to send his nomination to the floor earlier this year. Jayme has 110 percent of my support. 

I urge my colleagues to vote yes on the White nomination, and I yield the floor.