The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal recently suffered a huge setback after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in an interview Congress should not take up the trade deal before the November elections. McConnell told the Washington Post that President Obama would be making a big mistake by pushing for a vote on TPP during the election cycle and he added there is significant pushback to the trade pact.
McConnell opposed the TPP provisions that impact his state’s tobacco industry, Finance Chair Orrin Hatch opposes provisions that affect his state’s pharmaceutical industry and the GOP is reluctant to help Obama score a legacy trade twin. Democrats reliant on labor and environmental support also oppose the deal and congressional and presidential candidates may not want a vote during next spring’s primaries.
American Farm Bureau trade advisor Dave Salmonsen says McConnell is speaking for groups that want issues with the TPP addressed.
“Senator McConnell is just saying there are issues that different groups want addressed. Even after the agreement has been signed they want some more effort on these, and unless those are looked at and something is done about them, it will be hard to put together the support necessary to get enough votes for passage.”
As for the prospects of bringing up the TPP during the lame duck session following the 2016 elections, Salmonsen says there are pros and cons.
“If this is a chance to finally get this done after all the political pressures are off, then maybe there will be changes in control. If it looks like this may be the only opportunity to move it that may be an argument to try to get it done in a lame duck. The other argument to that always is lots of issues get put aside during an election year and the lame duck calendar tends to be pretty crowded.”
He says the timing of the TPP vote will depend on the political dynamic six months from now. However, putting it off could mean leaving it up to the next President or even risking problems with TPP trading partners.