White House bullish on TPP approval, despite Clinton opposition

White House bullish on TPP approval, despite Clinton opposition
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The White House expressed confidence on Thursday that it could push the Pacific Rim trade deal through Congress despite opposition from Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDemocrats go all out to court young voters for 2020 Pelosi: Whistleblower complaint 'must be addressed immediately' Election meddling has become the new normal of US diplomacy MORE.

Press secretary Josh Earnest said there is a “very strong case to be made” about the agreement to Republican and Democratic lawmakers. He noted that Congress passed trade promotion authority earlier this year over the objections of several leading figures in the Democratic Party.

“We continue to have confidence we will be able to build a similar bipartisan majority” in favor of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Earnest said. 

Clinton’s decision to break with Obama on trade could boost her standing with liberals and labor unions that oppose the sweeping 12-nation trade deal. 
 
It could also make it tougher for Obama to build enough Democratic support to pass the agreement through Congress. Both parties are divided on trade. Several GOP presidential candidates have come out against the deal, which could up pressure on Republican lawmakers to vote against it. 
 
But the trade promotion authority measure could make it easier for Obama to shepherd the agreement through the Senate, since it prevents opponents from filibustering the deal. 
 
Earnest brushed aside the notion that Clinton betrayed Obama by coming out against the trade deal, which is an important part of the president’s legacy. 
 
"The president understands that presidential politics are tough,” Earnest said, adding that candidates often “distinguish themselves” against the current occupant of the Oval Office. 
 
The trade issue is particularly divisive within the Democratic Party, where many believe new trade agreements will hurt American workers and shift jobs overseas. Obama argues that the trade deal will boost U.S. exports and make the country more competitive in Asia. 
 
Despite the divide on trade, Earnest said Obama and Clinton see eye to eye on almost every other economic issue, including raising the minimum wage, protecting workers’ rights and boosting job training programs. 
 
“That’s not to paper over the differences, there is a stark difference over this issue, Earnest said. “[But] those are the kinds of values the president” campaigned for and governed on.