Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) this week strongly downplayed the chances for a congressional vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership in a lame-duck session, though he stopped short of completely ruling it out.
[Daily News| May 5, 2016 |Inside US Trade]
McConnell, in a May 1 interview with the agriculture news service AgriPulse, declined to entirely rule out chances for a lame-duck vote, saying, “No, I make no guarantees about the outcome this year.” But he emphasized that the deal's prospects appear “bleak” in 2016.
According to McConnell, the “biggest problem” for a TPP vote this year is a political environment in which all of the major presidential candidates are against the deal, but he also flagged problems with the tobacco and pharmaceutical provisions. He said the TPP does not deal “fairly” with these industries.
“The political environment to pass a trade bill is worse than any time in the time I have been in the Senate,” he said.
“It looks bleak for this year [to have a TPP vote], that's the bad news” for supporters of free trade, he said.
“But the good news is the deal doesn't go away, it's still there” to be modified or dealt with by the next president under fast-track, he said. He noted that the fast-track, passed last spring, lasts for six years and creates procedures for expedited consideration of trade agreements in Congress.
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