White House gives up on passing the TPP

The Obama administration’s won’t pursue passage of its signature Pacific Rim trade deal, dealing a major blow to President Obama’s legacy. 

Any hope of passing the sweeping 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) quickly faded after Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDemocrats' CNN town halls exposed an extreme agenda Buttigieg says he doubts Sanders can win general election Post-Mueller, Trump has a good story to tell for 2020 MORE’s surprise victory on Tuesday and pronouncements by congressional leaders that the pact would not be considered during the lame-duck session.


Trump and Democrat Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonDavis: The shocking fact that Mueller never would have accused Trump of a crime Trump says he would challenge impeachment in Supreme Court The Hill's Morning Report - Will Joe Biden's unifying strategy work? MORE each opposed the agreement during their campaigns, endangering the already slim chances that Congress would cobble together enough support to pass the historic agreement before the end of Obama's presidency.

The long-shot trade agreement faced widespread Democratic opposition on Capitol Hill and the environment for passing the deal only grew more toxic during the presidential campaigns. 

As recently as last week, U.S. Trade Representative Michael FromanMichael B.G. FromanUS trade rep spent nearly M to furnish offices: report Overnight Finance: Trump hits China on currency manipulation, countering Treasury | Trump taps two for Fed board | Tax deadline revives fight over GOP overhaul | Justices set to hear online sales tax case Froman joins Mastercard to oversee global business expansion MORE expressed optimism that the Obama administration and congressional Republican leaders could reach a deal on the final outstanding issues, including patent protections for high-tech medicines called biologics.

But after Tuesday, the onus shifted to the willingness of Congress to consider the agreement.

"We have worked closely with Congress to resolve outstanding issues and are ready to move forward, but this is a legislative process and it's up to congressional leaders as to whether and when this moves forward," said Matt McAlvanah, a spokesman for the Office of the U.S. trade representative, in an email to The Hill.

A White House official acknowledged on Friday the difficultly of pressing Congress to pass the TPP because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report - Will Joe Biden's unifying strategy work? Dems charge ahead on immigration Biden and Bernie set for clash MORE (R-Ky.) said this week that "it’s something that he’s going to work with the president-elect to figure out where they go in terms of trade agreements in the future," according to reports.

Trump has vowed to pull the United States out the TPP and renegotiate the three-nation North American Free Trade Agreement.

Advocates for the TPP pact argue that ditching the deal will compromise the nation’s leadership position in the Asia-Pacific and potentially imperil relationships with key allies while China moves quickly to fill the economic and geopolitical void.

China and seven of the TPP nations are aiming to complete their own trade agreement in the coming months that could further shut out U.S. companies from tariff and other trade benefits in the region.

The TPP nations have lobbied Congress hard to pass the deal, arguing that the United States is needed to maintain balance in the rapidly growing Pacific Rim.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), an outspoken critic of the TPP deal, said that "a strong coalition of members of Congress and labor, environmental, faith and human rights organizations and activists worked diligently to stop this agreement."

“We will move forward with pushing new rules of the road for future trade agreements, rules that respect organized labor and human rights, protect the environment, ensure food safety, fight currency manipulation and create jobs and grow wages," she said in a statement on Friday evening.

Still, Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune was cautious about the news and argued that Trump’s opposition to the TPP is based on a different set of values than his group holds.

"We can't take it for granted that TPP is dead yet, and we certainly can't say that Trump killed it,” Brune said.

"Our fight against the TPP is rooted in respect for worker's rights around the world, a commitment to climate justice and a dedication to a new model of trade based on our shared values," he said.  

"Sadly, Trump's opposition to the TPP rejects those values, is rooted in the same xenophobia that dominated his campaign, and is bolstered by no real vision for what comes next," he said.