US Senate majority leader says chances pretty slim for TPP vote

Mitch-McConnellWASHINGTON: US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday that chances for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement to get a vote in Congress this year are “pretty slim”, China’s Xinhua news agency reported.

McConnell told reporters at a weekly press briefing that the US presidential campaign had made it increasingly difficult for Congress to consider the controversial trade deal this year as “both the Democratic and Republican candidates for president” were against it.

McConnell said he had not decided on the timing of a TPP vote in the Senate, but suggested that the Upper Chamber could wait until the next president takes office.

“It’s important to remember that the Trade Promotion Authority continues through the next president and the agreement doesn’t die at the end of this year,” he said of the trade legislation passed last summer that would allow the US president to submit trade deals to Congress for an up-or-down vote without amendments.

“It’s still out there to be considered or to be modified,” McConnell said, referring to the trade deal reached between the US and 11 other Asia-Pacific countries last year, which covers about 40 per cent of the global economic output.

McConnell’s comments are in stark contrast to many top officials in the Obama administration, who have urged Congress to approve the TPP as soon as possible.

The TPP involves Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam.