House Democrat expects support to grow for Pacific trade deal

House Democrat expects support to grow for Pacific trade deal
© Noel St. John

A pro-trade House Democrat said Monday that there are more than 28 votes within his party for an Asia-Pacific trade agreement that may come up during the lame-duck session.

Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia said there is potentially more support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) within the 52-member New Democrat Coalition, of which he is a member, that could push President Obama's Pacific deal across the finish line after the November elections.

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“So the optimist thinks there’s at least 12 more we think we can get,” Breyer said on Capitol Hill. “That is certainly our hope, because we know we’re going to lose some Republicans," he said.

Last summer, Beyer and 27 of his fellow Democrats voted for trade promotion authority that will let the 12-nation TPP move through the House and the Senate without amendment.

Breyer said that he and other TPP supporters are working to keep the original 28 together while reaching out to Democrats who were on the margin in their support for fast-track authority.

“It wasn’t an easy vote politically, there were only 28 Democrats in the House that vote for it but the choice was really clear and I hope to face another similar difficult choice with TPP in the lame-duck, when, by the way, we think we can get many more than 28 Democrats to support it,” Beyer said during an event on Capitol Hill.

The TPP is proving a tough sell to Congress, especially among Democrats — despite it being a top priority for President Obama.

And both presidential candidates Democrat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhy Trump's bigoted tropes won't work in 2020 The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet GOP put on the back foot by Trump's race storm MORE and Republican Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpEsper sidesteps question on whether he aligns more with Mattis or Trump Warren embraces Thiel label: 'Good' As tensions escalate, US must intensify pressure on Iran and the IAEA MORE are opposed to the sweeping Pacific deal, making the politics even more difficult for lawmakers on Capitol Hill. 

The White House is working with congressional leaders to resolve their concerns to move the deal before the president leaves office. 

"Hopefully the work that Mike Froman is doing with Sens. [Orrin] Hatch and [Mitch] McConnell will bring back the tobacco and biologics people," Beyer said.

"Those are the two that we’re most concerned about," he said. 

Another supportive House Democrat, Rep. Ron KindRonald (Ron) James KindHouse panel approves bills on tax extenders, expanding tax credits SECURE Act will give Main Street workers needed security Dems walk Trump trade tightrope MORE of Wisconsin, who also is chairman of the coalition, recently told The Hill that there probably more than 28 Democrats who will vote for the TPP.

Earlier this month, 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.), the chairman of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade, recently called on the president to rally members of his own party to help produce more Democratic votes that will be needed to pass the TPP this year.