The prospects for a vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) before the end of this Congress seems less and less likely every single day.
The Asian free trade agreement, once seen as likely to pass, now appears unlikely to even get an up or down vote. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told reporters on Thursday that TPP had become too "politically toxic" to consider - even during a post-election lame duck session.
While TPP may be dead for this Congress, the next president will still have the trade promotion authority that Congress authorized in the summer of 2015. That authority, which allows the White House to send Congress trade agreements, such as TPP, for an up-or-down vote without amendments until July 1, 2018, is seen as critical to passage of any Asian free trade agreement.
“If we were going to have another discussion about trade, it would have to be led by whoever the next president is,” McConnell said.
Anti-free trade Democrats in the Senate are arguing that TPP should be renegotiated before any vote. Democrats are seeking changes to the agreement, particularly those that relate to labor and the environment.
Both of the major party candidates for president oppose the TPP as currently negotiated - though former Secretary Clinton once supported the agreement.