WASHINGTON • The United States Senate's top Republican has said that the sweeping 12-nation Pacific Rim trade deal championed by President Barack Obama will remain on ice until another president revives it.
And with both current presidential nominees opposed to the deal's ratification, that could be the death knell for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), barring a major shift from Democrat Hillary Clinton or Republican Donald Trump.
"Since they negotiate the deals and they send them up, the president is a big, big player in trade," said Senate majority leader Mitch Mc- Connell, a Republican from Kentucky, on Thursday. "If we were going to have another discussion about trade, it would have to be led by whoever the next president is."
President Obama has made a renewed push in recent months for ratification of the TPP, with an eye towards persuading Congress to hold a vote on the deal in the post-election lame-duck session.
But Mr McConnell, who had previously ruled out a lame-duck trade vote, seemed to prefer a longer game: "I believe if it were brought up this year, it would be defeated anyway - leading you to raise the obvious question: If you're interested in America still being in the trading business in the future, in what way is it advantageous to have a trade agreement go down?"
Obama aides have suggested that Mr McConnell's reluctance ahead of the elections is to protect vulnerable Republican candidates in manufacturing-heavy swing states, such as Ohio and Pennsylvania.
But the administration officials have privately expressed hope that Mr McConnell will change his mind after the election.