Furman says Pacific trade deal will pass this year

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A top Obama administration official said Thursday that Congress will pass an expansive Pacific Rim trade agreement before President Obama leaves office.

Jason Furman, chairman of the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers, said he expects lawmakers on Capitol Hill to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) during the lame-duck session after the November election.

{mosads}“I think the support is there,” Furman said during a discussion with Bloomberg Politics.

Furman said passing the TPP is “perfectly reasonable” — even with a new administration moving into the White House in January — because the agreement will have been available for public scrutiny for a year by that time, much longer than most legislation gets vetted.

White House officials have lately expressed more confidence that Congress will pass the 12-nation TPP even amid anti-trade rhetoric fueling the Democratic and Republican presidential campaigns.

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the presumptive Democratic and Republican nominees, respectively, each oppose the sweeping Pacific Rim deal. 

Much of the White House’s optimism stems from the headway made by the Obama administration and Congress on issues such as financial services. Lawmakers have said their concerns about the deal must be addressed and resolved before they will consider taking up the TPP.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman took a similar tack this week, saying he sees Congress passing the TPP because lawmakers understand the significant political, strategic and economic costs of the delaying the agreement. 

Despite opposition from a majority of congressional Democrats and most labor unions, Froman said he thinks the TPP can pass.

“I think at the end of the day there will be the necessary support to get it done,” Froman said.

Froman has stressed that the White House would like “to get it done as quickly as possible.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has said the Senate will wait until after the election in an effort to protect vulnerable Republican incumbents in their reelection bids. 

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