TPP deal won’t get vote this year
WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday the Senate will not vote on President Obama’s signature Asian trade deal this year, punting it to the next president for changes and consideration.
The statement appeared to dash White House hopes for a vote to approve the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement after the election on Nov. 8 and before Obama leaves office in January.
McConnell, a Kentucky Republican who controls the Senate’s voting agenda, has previously said that chances for a TPP “lame duck session” vote were “slim” or “bleak.”
“The current agreement, the Trans-Pacific (Partnership) agreement, which has some serious flaws, will not be acted upon this year,” McConnell told a Kentucky State Farm Bureau breakfast in Louisville.
“But it will still be around. It can be massaged, changed, worked on during the next administration. So, I hope America will stay in the trade business,” McConnell said. “I was aligned with Barack Obama against (Sen.) Harry Reid and (House Minority Leader) Nancy Pelosi,” he said. “Almost an out-of-body experience, now that I think about it.”
The Obama administration is in the midst of a major push to promote the TPP deal, with cabinet officials holding dozens of events this month across the United States to try to build political support. Obama is expected to tout the TPP in the next two weeks at summits of the Group of 20 major economies in China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Laos.
A spokesman for the Trade Representative’s office could not immediately be reached for comment on McConnell’s statement.
A number of senators in recent weeks have declared their opposition to the TPP deal in its current form, including Democrat Tim Kaine of Virginia, who is now the party’s vice presidential candidate alongside Hillary Clinton.
Republican Sen. Patrick Toomey of Lehigh Valley, who is in a tough re-election race in a state hit by manufacturing job losses, has said he cannot support the deal. Ohio Sen. Rob Portman has come out against the deal.
Support for the TPP deal has been stronger in farming states, where proponents argue that it would boost exports of agricultural products.