Michael Froman, a senior White House economic adviser and classmate of President Obama at Harvard Law School, won Senate confirmation Wednesday to be the next U.S. trade representative.
The confirmation vote was 93 to 4, elevating Froman, 50, to the head of an agency now involved in two of the most significant deals in recent history.
“In his new position, Mike will stay focused on our primary economic goals — promoting growth, creating jobs and strengthening the middle class,” Obama said in a statement lauding the action. “And he will continue to help open new markets for American businesses, level the playing field for American workers, farmers and ranchers, and fully enforce our trade rights.”
Voting against Froman were an independent, Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and three Democrats: Carl Levin of Michigan, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Warren said in a floor speech that she was voting against the nominee because he would not commit to more transparency on positions taken by the United States and other countries in trade talks.
“I believe we need a new direction from the trade representative, a direction that prioritizes transparency and public debate,” Warren said.
Froman succeeds former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk, who resigned as trade representative in February after serving through Obama’s first term and finalizing free-trade agreements with South Korea, Panama and Colombia.
One of Froman’s responsibilities as trade representative will be completing talks this year on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an Asia-Pacific trading bloc including the United States, Australia, Canada, Malaysia, Mexico, Vietnam, Chile, New Zealand, Brunei, Singapore, Peru and Japan.
The trade office also will be at the forefront of just-initiated trade-liberalization talks with the European Union known as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.