The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) submitted a draft Statement of Administration Action to Congress for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on August 12, fulfilling a procedural step for congressional consideration of the agreement. According to Trade Promotion Authority procedures, USTR must submit the draft Statement of Administration Action at least thirty days before it submits draft implementing legislation for TPP to Congress.
The submission is another signal that the Obama Administration is intent on submitting TPP for consideration by the lame-duck session of Congress following the November elections, despite little apparent progress in resolving substantive objections to the agreement from key Republican legislators and ongoing attacks on the trade accord delivered by the presidential campaigns of both Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump. Many Members of Congress facing tough re-election races, including some who voted for Trade Promotion Authority last year, have come out in opposition to the agreement, likely due to political pressure.
President Obama had one last major opportunity to promote TPP in early September, on his trip to China for the G-20 Leaders’ Summit on September 4-5 and to Laos for the U.S.-East Asia Summit on September 6-8, both of which were attended by other TPP countries and provided major platforms for the President to advocate for the agreement.
Though the outlook for TPP seems grim given the domestic U.S. political environment, it is clear that the Obama Administration believes quick consideration and passage by Congress remain possible after the election season.