[Adam Behsudi| October 31, 2016 |Politico]
If the Obama administration gets its lame-duck vote on the TPP, it will be ready. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman tells Morning Trade that its preparation for such a moment has been exhaustive – and he expressed optimism, in light of outreach that’s been done on Capitol Hill, of strong support from Republicans and Democrats who voted last year to give President Barack Obama “fast track” authority to finish the deal.
“We’re doing all the preparatory work that we can, whether it’s meeting with individual members, working on outstanding issues, making sure that the [TPP implementing] bill and the reports and the statement of administrative action are all ready to go,” Froman said Friday, after talking up the pact in Nashville. “We have been very focused on doing all the things that are within our control to maximize the likelihood it gets approved in a lame duck.”
‘A pretty firm bunch’: The U.S. trade chief said he felt comfortable the 28 House Democrats and 13 Senate Democrats who voted last year for trade promotion authority would vote for TPP, with the exception of Sen. Tim Kaine, who came out against the pact when he became Hillary Clinton’s running mate. “I don’t think we can take anyone for granted, but I think they are a pretty firm bunch,” Froman said.
The White House also sees strong support on the other side of the aisle, Froman said, adding that he personally met with about 95 House Republicans who had some questions or nervousness about the agreement. “Those meetings, with very few exceptions, have gone extremely well. I think there’s a lot of support out there,” Froman said. “They all, of course, are attuned to the politics and want to understand when and how we’re going to bring it forward.”
In that regard, Froman said the Obama administration is working with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch to address concerns lawmakers have raised. With the lame-duck session set to begin two weeks from today, the pressure is on for the White House to reach a deal that would persuade Republican leaders.