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 RyanThe Hill's Morning Report — Dems detail case to remove Trump for abuse of power Social security emerges as latest flash point in Biden-Sanders tussle Hill.TV's Saagar Enjeti rips Sanders for 'inability to actually fight with bad actors' in party 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 KindTreasury watchdog to investigate Trump opportunity zone program How the 31 Democrats in Trump districts voted on impeachment Nearly all Democrats expected to back articles of impeachment 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 TrumpTrump says his advice to impeachment defense team is 'just be honest' Trump expands tariffs on steel and aluminum imports CNN's Axelrod says impeachment didn't come up until 80 minutes into focus group MORE and Democrat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSanders to Clinton: 'This is not the kind of rhetoric that we need' Sekulow vows Bidens, Ukraine will be part of Trump impeachment defense Elizabeth Warren: More 'Hillary' than Hillary 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 BradyConservative groups aim to sink bipartisan fix to 'surprise' medical bills Trump economic aide says new tax proposal could be unveiled this summer Hoyer: Democratic chairmen trying to bridge divide on surprise medical bills 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 ReichertBottom Line The most expensive congressional races of the last decade Lymphedema Treatment Act would provide a commonsense solution to a fixable problem 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.