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 HatchNY's political prosecution of Manafort should scare us all Congress must break its addiction to unjust tax extenders The FDA crackdown on dietary supplements is inadequate 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 McConnellLessons from the 1999 U.S. military intervention in Kosovo Five things to watch as AIPAC conference kicks off Romney helps GOP look for new path on climate change 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 ReichertYoder, Messer land on K Street Ex-GOP lawmaker from Washington joins lobbying firm Outgoing GOP rep says law enforcement, not Congress should conduct investigations 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 KindThe fear of colorectal cancer as a springboard for change The 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority Democrats, Trump battle over 75 'pivot' counties in Midwest 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.