Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerHouse markup of ObamaCare repeal bill up in the air Conservatives to Congress: Get moving Boehner: ObamaCare repeal and replace 'not going to happen' MORE (R-Ohio) is urging President Obama to hit the road to drum up support for a trade promotion authority (TPA) bill opposed by many Democrats.
BoehnerJohn BoehnerHouse markup of ObamaCare repeal bill up in the air Conservatives to Congress: Get moving Boehner: ObamaCare repeal and replace 'not going to happen' MORE, who, along with other Republicans, has criticized the president for using campaign-style speeches to push Democratic priorities, challenged Obama to use that same tactic to hawk the need for fast-track authority, an issue where he clearly doesn't have wholehearted Democratic support.
"Now after five years in office, we know how the president can be when he’s serious about something. He hits the road, uses his bully pulpit, and he takes his case to the American people," he said.
“So if the president is serious in his commitment to getting this important bipartisan legislation passed, he’ll do the same on this issue. And we’re hopeful that we can pass that bill this year.”
Senate Republicans on Thursday also urged the White House and U.S. Trade Representative Michael FromanMichael FromanOvernight Finance: WH floats Mexican import tax | Exporters move to back GOP tax proposal | Dems rip Trump adviser's Goldman Sachs payout Froman heads to Council on Foreign Relations Overnight Finance: Carson, Warren battle at hearing | Rumored consumer bureau pick meets Trump | Trump takes credit for Amazon hirings | A big loss for Soros MORE to fully engage with lawmakers to get a bill passed.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellThough flawed, complex Medicaid block grants have fighting chance Sanders: 'If you don't have the guts to face your constituents,' you shouldn't be in Congress McConnell: Trump's speech should be 'tweet free' MORE (R-Ky.) took to the floor on Thursday to urge Obama to start talking more about the issue or risk the failure of the bipartisan bill.
“We need the president to get involved,” McConnell said. "We need him to step up for American workers and increased exports by bringing his party on board with the trade promotion bill that was introduced just last week.”
Senate Finance Committee ranking member Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin HatchHow to marry housing policy and tax reform for millions of Americans Though flawed, complex Medicaid block grants have fighting chance A guide to the committees: Senate MORE (R-Utah), who co-sponsored the bill, was among several Republicans who complained that Froman did not appear before the panel at its first hearing on the issue since legislation was introduced a week ago.
Hatch said that renewing TPA is "not an issue where the president can lead from behind."
The Obama administration is seeking authority that would smooth congressional passage of any trade deals that reach Capitol Hill.
Under the authority, Congress would take an up-or-down vote and not have the ability to change the agreements.
The United States is negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership with 11 other Asia-Pacific and Latin American nations as well as a massive deal with the 28-nation European Union, which is still in the early stages.
House Democrats have said that Froman and other White House officials, including Obama's chief of staff, Denis McDonoughDenis McDonoughObama's chief of staff joins foundation with focus on jobs Chicago mayor visits White House to meet with Trump aides Obama staffers challenged to WH scavenger hunt on final day MORE, have picked up the pace of talks in recent weeks and are asking them for their support.
Commerce Secretary Penny PritzkerPenny PritzkerDeVos should ‘persist’ despite liberal opposition Indiana teachers hold sit-in to demand Young recuse himself from DeVos vote Overnight Tech: Trump team eyes FCC overhaul | AT&T chief says no plans to spin off CNN in merger | Commerce pick heads to hearing MORE also has been out front on the importance of global trade to the U.S. economy.
The USTR's office said it's working with both parties to build bipartisan support for the legislation.
Still, there is a mix of Democrats and Republicans who have expressed opposition to a fast-track bill.
House Ways and Means Committee ranking member Sandy Levin (D-Mich.) has not signed onto the TPA measure and is urging his colleagues to press for more detailed provisions in TPA to ensure that Congress is more deeply involved in all phases of the trade talks.
Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry ReidThe Hill's 12:30 Report Hopes rise for law to expand access to experimental drugs If Gorsuch pick leads to 'crisis,' Dems should look in mirror first MORE (D-Nev.) said this week that he is not sure yet about the bill getting floor time even if Finance approves it.
Reid said "there's a lot of controversy" around the bill and that he's "going to see how that plays out with my caucus and with the Senate."
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max BaucusMax BaucusFive reasons why Tillerson is likely to get through Business groups express support for Branstad nomination The mysterious sealed opioid report fuels speculation MORE (D-Mont.), a bill co-sponsor, argued on Thursday that the bill does respond to the massive changes in global trade since the last TPA bill was written in 2002. That authority expired in 2007.
Sen. Rob PortmanRob PortmanConquering Trump returns to conservative summit ObamaCare fix hinges on Medicaid clash in Senate A guide to the committees: Senate MORE (R-Ohio), a former trade representative and member of the Finance committee, said he is confident that the White House will get more involved in shaping the TPA bill because there is not choice but for Obama to play a role.