Ryan: Pacific deal can't be fixed in time for lame-duck vote

Ryan: Pacific deal can't be fixed in time for lame-duck vote
© Greg Nash

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanAmash: Trump incorrect in claiming Congress didn't subpoena Obama officials Democrats hit Scalia over LGBTQ rights Three-way clash set to dominate Democratic debate MORE said Wednesday he doesn’t think the White House can fix problems with a sweeping Pacific Rim trade deal before the end of President Obama’s tenure.

The Wisconsin Republican and one of the authors of the trade promotion authority law said he doesn't anticipate that the significant changes to the for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) can be made in time to attract enough support to ratify the contentious pact.

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"This agreement has to be improved and fixed and that’s not going to happen in the next couple of months," Ryan told the Economic Club of Washington, D.C.

Ryan said he won't risk putting the pact up for a vote during a lame-duck session after the November elections if support falls short.

"The last thing I want to do, just for the sake of our allies' relationships, is bring up an agreement only to see it fail," Ryan said. 

The White House negotiated the deal to build support among congressional Democrats at the expense of Republican votes, Ryan said. 

"So we’re down a significant amount among Republicans because of the quality of this agreement, and it did not pick up a single additional Democrat vote," he said.

The Obama administration is working with Republican leaders to address the issues they have with the deal, including data protections for high-tech medicines known as biologics.

Republicans and the pharmaceutical industry want 12 years of intellectual property coverage for the drugs, which is the U.S. standard. The TPP has a maximum of eight years. 

The White House has yet to send a TPP bill to Capitol Hill and has said it will work with congressional leaders on timing. 

Supportive House Democrats, including Reps. 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 (Wis.) and Don Beyer (Va.), say they are trying to build support among members of their own party beyond the 28 who voted for fast-track trade legislation last summer to make up for any Republican deficit.

Still, the TPP faces an uphill battle amid growing uncertainty about the agreement's future in a new administration. 

Republican Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpZuckerberg launches public defense of Facebook as attacks mount Trump leaning toward keeping a couple hundred troops in eastern Syria: report Warren says making Israel aid conditional on settlement building is 'on the table' MORE and Democrat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClinton trolls Trump with mock letter from JFK to Khrushchev Trump-Graham relationship tested by week of public sparring Sunday shows — Mulvaney seeks to tamp down firestorm over quid pro quo comments, Doral decision MORE each oppose the TPP and say they won't approve the deal in its current form if they win the White House. 

But there are small flashes of hope that the TPP can get done this year as long as Republican concerns are addressed. 

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyOvernight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union — House Dems change drug pricing bill to address progressive concerns | Top Republican rejects Dem proposal on surprise medical bills | Vaping group launches Fox News ad blitz Top Republican rejects Democratic chairman's approach to stopping surprise medical bills America's workers and small business owners need the SECURE Act MORE (R-Texas) said Tuesday that House Republicans will "max out" their votes for the TPP if the remaining issues can be fixed, and he is hopeful a deal can get done in the lame-duck.

He also urged the White House to pick up the pace if they want to get the TPP ratified this year. 

To that end, 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 met with Ways and Means members from both parties on Tuesday. 

"Without these substantive changes, the House will not have the votes to approve TPP, and American workers will continue to lose customers to other countries," Brady said in a statement after the meeting.

"The clock is ticking, and the White House must act soon,” Brady said.

Trade Subcommittee Chairman 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 the TPP's chances of passing are driven by the administration successfully addressing lawmakers' substantive concerns.

"We will continue to have these conversations, because the timeline for TPP depends on the administration’s willingness to address these issues and provide a path forward," Reichert said.