Obama expected to push Congress to pass TPP

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) is sounding a cautious tone about the Asia-Pacific trade deal’s chances in Congress.

The House Ways and Means Committee chairman said that passing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement between the United States and 11 other nations “is difficult but doable” during a Politico Morning Money event Monday evening. 

{mosads}While that the TPP can get done because “the economic value of moving into the Asia-Pacific area under our trade rules [is] critically important,” Brady said.

But he said that there are some challenges because White House made “some policy decisions that are costing them votes on both sides of the aisle.”

He noted that intellectual protections for high-tech medicines that fall short of the U.S. standard of 12 years and an exemption for manufactured tobacco products from investor-state dispute settlement rules have generated most of the concern among lawmakers. 

President Obama is expected on Tuesday night during his final State of the Union address to tout the benefits off TPP and urge Congress to pass the pact before he leaves office.

Brady, who has said his committee would likely start hearings next month, suggested that the timing of a House vote would depend on how quickly the White House works through congressional concerns.

“We’ve got to look at that agreement in its entirety, find ways to improve the agreement in areas where the agreement needs improving and bring it to the floor,” he said.

Brady said that he wants the substance of the agreement to drive the timing of a vote and added that he would neither hasten nor delay a vote.

The TPP has a “good solid base of support in the House but there is still a lot of work to do,” Brady said.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said that the TPP would probably have to wait until the lame-duck session after the presidential election.

The White House faces a tough fight in building support in Congress to pass the deal.

The president faces widespread opposition from his own party and will have to rely on Republicans to push the deal through Congress. 

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), who is opposed to the TPP, joined a group of Democrats, labor and environmental groups ahead of the State of the Union to reiterate her stance.

“We know TPP is too dangerous for us simply to stand aside and let it pass,” she said in a press conference on Monday.

“While the administration has called it the most progressive agreement in history, the details of the TPP tell a very different story — one that spells danger for our middle class.”

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler called the TPP “a corporate giveaway, putting jobs at risk rather than growing opportunity for all.”

“We will not stand by while another trade deal lines the pockets of CEOs at the expense of working people,” Shuler said. 

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has yet to take a stance on the deal.

“I’m reading it now,” she told reporters last week. “I’m going to study it very carefully.”

Tags Kevin Brady Kevin Brady Mitch McConnell Nancy Pelosi President Obama Trans-Pacific Partnership

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