Hatch: TPP deal can get done in lame-duck session

Hatch: TPP deal can get done in lame-duck session
© Greg Nash

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchTrump holds more Medal of Freedom ceremonies than predecessors but awards fewer medals Trump to award Medal of Freedom to former Attorney General Edwin Meese Trump to award racing legend Roger Penske with Presidential Medal of Freedom MORE said Wednesday that Congress will pass a sweeping Asia-Pacific trade agreement before the end of the year.

The Utah Republican said he is working with the Obama administration to resolve several lingering issues that could ultimately pave the way for a vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) in the lame-duck session after the November elections.  

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"I think we're going to get it done in lame-duck," Hatch told The Hill.

First though, the White House needs to calm his concerns over the truncated length of patent protections for high-tech medicines called biologics, Hatch said.

Hatch and other pro-trade Republicans want 12 years of data exclusivity, which is the U.S. standard, whereas the TPP provides up to eight years.

"There are ways of doing it, they'll just have to do it," Hatch said of the White House's efforts.

Hatch said he is getting assurances from the White House that a solution is in the works that will address the trade deal's problems.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellTrump-GOP tensions over Syria show signs of easing Trump again vetoes resolution blocking national emergency for border wall Trump invites congressional leaders to meeting on Turkey MORE (R-Ky.) said recently he didn't expect to take a vote on the TPP this year, leaving it to the next administration to handle. 

President Obama is still urging Congress to pass the Pacific agreement before he leaves office even as his efforts face stiff headwinds from Democrats on Capitol Hill and the anti-trade rhetoric from both presidential candidates.

Earlier in the day, Rep. Dave ReichertDavid (Dave) George ReichertLymphedema Treatment Act would provide a commonsense solution to a fixable problem Yoder, Messer land on K Street Ex-GOP lawmaker from Washington joins lobbying firm MORE (R-Wash.) said progress was being made on the biologics front and a solution would help sell the TPP to wary GOP lawmakers. 

But Reichert, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade, said that more Democratic votes are needed to ensure passage of the TPP amid any Republican defections, calling on the president to find more support. 

The House would need more than 40 Democrats to throw their support behind the trade deal to get to the 218 needed to ensure passage, he said.

Last year, 28 Democrats supported the president's efforts to win trade promotion authority, or fast track, which would move the TPP through Congress without amendment. 

Democratic Rep. Ron KindRonald (Ron) James KindAmerica's workers and small business owners need the SECURE Act Blood cancer patients deserve equal access to the cure Democrats see whistleblower report as smoking gun MORE of Wisconsin, who voted for fast track and is supportive of the TPP, told The Hill that "it is certainly doable to be north of 28" but that there needs to be a landing zone on biologics and other issues.