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House of Cards: Will Congress Fast-Track Obama's Trans-Pacific Partnership?
Lowy Interpreter (2014)
  • Matthew Rimmer, Australian National University College of Law
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a house of cards. The blockbuster trade agreement, spanning the Pacific Rim and covering a score of topics, is the subject of intense negotiations in this week of Asian summitry. But its fate will depend on the brutal partisan domestic politics of Washington, DC.
President Barack Obama needs to be granted fast track trade promotion authority from the US Congress to secure the passage of the TPP. Yet, he has faced opposition in Congress from Democrats and from some quarters of the Republican Party. The TPP is stuck in the gridlock of DC politics, and the triumph of the Republicans in the midterm elections has further complicated the progress of the agreement. The balance of power has shifted towards the Republicans, with the party seizing control of both the House of Representatives and the Senate. President Obama has sought to encourage the new Republican-led Congress to work with him:
I'm eager to work with the new Congress to make the next two years as productive as possible. I'm committed to making sure that I measure ideas not by whether they are from Democrats or Republicans, but whether they work for the American people.
Obama will be dependent upon a Republican Congress, which hates his presidency with a deep and abiding passion, in order to win support for the TPP. But Republican Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell has emphasized that he could collaborate with President Obama on trade agreements:
The president and I were just talking about that right before I came over here. Most of his party is unenthusiastic about international trade. We think it's good for America. And so, I've got a lot of members who believe that international trade agreements are a winner for America. And the president and I discussed that right before I came over here, and I think he's interested in moving forward. I said, 'Send us trade agreements. We're anxious to take a look at them.
But others, like Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, have demanded that trade promotion authority provide new oversight mechanisms in respect of the full implementation and effective enforcement of trade agreements. Hatch has argued: 'Our nation as a whole wins by tearing down trade barriers.' He has also maintained: 'If we don't work to bring these barriers down, we are putting American jobs at risk, because our international allies are working hard every day to lower them for their people.'
  • Trans-Pacific Partnership,
  • United States Congress,
  • White House,
  • Fast-Track Authority,
  • Trade Promotion Authority
Publication Date
November 11, 2014
Citation Information
Matthew Rimmer. "House of Cards: Will Congress Fast-Track Obama's Trans-Pacific Partnership?" Lowy Interpreter (2014)
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