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Ryan: ‘We feel pretty good’ about trade bill

Ryan: ‘We feel pretty good’ about trade bill
© Greg Nash

Rep. Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanGOP leaders hesitant to challenge Trump on Saudi Arabia Republicans should prepare for Nancy Pelosi to wield the gavel Ryan signals support for sanctions if Saudis killed Khashoggi MORE (R-Wis.) expressed confidence Tuesday that the House will pass fast-track legislation this month giving President Obama the power to complete his ambitious trade agenda.

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Ryan, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, said trade promotion authority (TPA) will pass through the House in June, despite strong opposition from liberal Democrats and mounting dissent from conservative Republicans.

“The Senate just passed it two weeks ago with a good, strong vote and I think we will also have a good bipartisan vote here in the House because we know if you don't have trade promotion authority, then you don't get any trade agreements,” he said on Fox Business Network’s “Mornings with Maria.”

“And if you don't get trade agreements, then you're losing as a country,” he said.

Ahead of Congress's Memorial Day recess, the Senate passed the measure 62-37.

Ryan has waged a sweeping campaign within his own party to get enough Republicans on board to counter a lack of support from the president’s own party on fast-track authority.

So far, only 14 Democrats publicly support fast-track, according to The Hill’s Whip List, though some reports have that number at 17.

Republicans have repeatedly called on Democrats to produce more votes toward the 217 needed for passage.

There are more than two dozen House Democrats who say they remain undecided about the issue, according The Hill's count.

Still, if Republicans lose upwards of four dozen votes, they won’t have enough to pass the bill.

But Ryan is convinced his numbers are growing.

“We're building, we're on good pace, we're basically hitting our schedule as we had intended, and so we feel pretty good where we are,” he said.

Ryan remains insistent that fast-track gives Congress more power to steer the direction of trade agreements like the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is nearing completion.

In the past few months, he and a core of his Ways and Means colleagues have tried to sell that to House Republicans.

“It’s putting Congress in the driver's seat along with the administration,” Ryan said.

“We're basically saying, here's how this has to be done for Congress to approve it, so we brought in more transparency, more accountability to the entire process, so we think we've dramatically improved the way we vet and consider trade agreements with this new trade promotion authority," he added.

Ryan crafted the measure with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and the panel’s top Democrat, Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.).

Meanwhile, House Democrats have continued their own campaign to stop fast-track from clearing Congress and reaching the president’s desk.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) told a crowd gathered outside the AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington on Tuesday that “hell, yes, we’re going to win” the battle to stop fast-track.

The Washington rally was aimed at ramping up pressure on the Obama administration to release the text of the TPP deal before it is complete and prove that the massive deal will create more U.S. jobs.

DeLauro said the White House does not want the American people to see the trade deal because “if they saw it, they’d reject it.”

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) told the gathered crowd that “if the deal is so good, we should be able to read it.”

Updated at 12:52 p.m.