Sessions slams talk of trade deal vote after the elections
© Greg Nash

Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsHillicon Valley: Trump cyber strategy lets US go on offense | AT&T urges court to let Time Warner merger stand | Conservatives want wife of DOJ official to testify | Facebook, nonprofits team up to fight fake news | DC camera hacker pleads guilty Vote Democrat in midterms to rein in Trump, preserve justice Sessions limits ability of judges to dismiss deportation cases MORE (R-Ala.) on Friday slammed suggestions that Congress wouldn't take up President Obama's signature trade deal before the 2016 elections, calling a lame-duck vote an attempt to sidestep voters. 

"It seems clear the goal of [Trans-Pacific Partnership] supporters is to hold the vote when the public will be least able to hold their representatives accountable, because the pact’s boosters know that it is deeply unpopular," Sessions said in a statement, adding that its not Congress's job to "help the president to bypass voters."
 
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The Alabama Republican has been a vocal critical of both the trade deal and legislation passed earlier this year allowing it to be fast-tracked through Congress. He said lawmakers should undo the fast-track legislation, known as trade promotion authority, take up the trade deal now and "let the American people hold their elected officials and candidates accountable." 
 
President Obama has yet to send the trade deal to lawmakers. Under the terms of fast-track, the earliest Obama could sign the agreement and send it to Congress is Feb. 4. 
 
 
“It certainly shouldn’t come before the election," he told The Washington Post. "I think the president would be making a big mistake to try to have that voted on during the election. There’s significant pushback all over the place."
 
While the Republican leader supported the fast-track legislation earlier this year, he's signaled deep unease about the Asia-Pacific deal and suggested that it could also get pushed beyond the lame-duck session until Obama's successor is in office. 
 
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Friday that Congress should be able to "carefully" review the deal "without kicking the vote all the way to the lame-duck period."
 
- This story was updated at 4:23 p.m.