Pro-trade lawmakers push for continued effort after setback in talks

Pro-trade lawmakers push for continued effort after setback in talks
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Pro-trade lawmakers and the business community are urging the Obama administration to keep pushing, after negotiators failed to finalize a massive 12-nation trade pact Friday.

A group meeting for negotiations for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) came to a standstill Friday, as the partner nations were unable to finalize the terms of the deal. U.S. Trade Representative Michael FromanMichael B.G. FromanOn The Money: Sanders unveils plan to wipe .6T in student debt | How Sanders plan plays in rivalry with Warren | Treasury watchdog to probe delay of Harriet Tubman bills | Trump says Fed 'blew it' on rate decision Democrats give Trump trade chief high marks US trade rep spent nearly M to furnish offices: report MORE said “significant progress” had been made, but all parties left the Hawaii meeting empty-handed.

With the fate of that trade pact still in doubt, individuals and groups invested in seeing the deal through urged continued effort, while looking out for U.S. interests.

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While liberal critics of the trade deal said the failure to finalize was proof of lingering trouble for the agreement, others said the matter was simply a speed bump and focused on the progress made during the latest talks.

“I’m pleased that President Obama and Ambassador Froman are taking the time necessary to get this agreement done right,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), one of several pro-trade Democrats.

And Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchKey Republicans say Biden can break Washington gridlock Trump awards Medal of Freedom to racing industry icon Roger Penske Trump holds more Medal of Freedom ceremonies than predecessors but awards fewer medals MORE (R-Utah) attributed the lack of progress to American negotiators holding firm on key issues.

“A good deal is better than a fast deal,” he said in a statement. “I’m confident that with more time and a renewed commitment a strong agreement can be reached that will earn my support, the support of Congress and that of the American people.”

The U.S. business community has been intensely interested in the trade talks and reacted to Friday’s stalemate by urging continued action behind the scenes.

“We are encouraged by the progress made during this round of TPP negotiations, and we urge negotiators to continue working together to achieve a comprehensive and high-quality agreement as soon as possible,” said Tom Linebarger, head of the Business Roundtable’s International Engagement Committee.

But liberals long critical of the talks pointed to the lack of action as proof of lingering trouble, and pushed for a change in course.

Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas) argued that Friday’s developments underline the need for more text from the trade terms to be released, particularly the sections pertaining to the environment.

“If any genuine progress was achieved, now is the time to stop hiding it by disclosing the full text so that every word can be scrutinized,” he said. “To date, summaries of that chapter have been misleading.”

Expectations for the Hawaii round of trade talks were ramped up of late, after Congress narrowly approved critical legislation giving Obama “fast-track” authority to finalize the terms of the deal. The president personally pushed lawmakers to support the legislation, saying he could not get the trade deal done without it.

But with the last meeting of top negotiators having come and gone, the deal is not likely to be finalized anytime in the near future. Lawmakers in Congress will still have the chance to vote up-or-down on the final language of the deal, and the full text must be posted 60 days before that vote is held.

The latest delay will further push the trade debate towards 2016, as the presidential campaign heats up. No future group meetings have been set yet.