• The Latest on Fast Track
  • May 5, 2015
  • Law Firm: McDonald Hopkins LLC - Cleveland Office
  • This week, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe came to D.C. and spoke before a Joint Session of Congress. His visit comes as the political fight over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is heating up on Capitol Hill.

    Specifically, the Obama administration is stepping up its efforts to lobby Democrats on the issue, dispatching Vice President Joe Biden to talk to his former colleagues.

    In particular, Biden and the White House are pushing Democrats to approve so-called “fast track” trade authority that would only allow Congress to make an up or down vote on any final TPP - stripping Congress of its ability to amend the deal.

    Ultimately, members say, the prospects of the fast-track bill—also known as Trade Promotion Authority—will be determined by House Democrats. The caucus has traditionally opposed such legislation, but Republicans have said they will need Democratic votes to move the bill. In recent weeks, the Obama administration has sent Cabinet secretaries and White House advisers to lobby and brief the caucus.

    Much of that outreach has focused on the New Democrat Coalition, a 46-strong group of pro-business lawmakers. The group met with Sen. Ron Wyden, one of the Senate's TPA architects, on Wednesday. Its members then headed to the White House Thursday to hear Obama's pitch for the bill.

    While members credit caucus leadership for being open-minded on TPA (neither Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi nor Whip Steny Hoyer have taken a position on the bill), outside groups have been more outspoken. Labor giant AFL-CIO has cut off campaign funding to focus on fighting the bill, and some progressive groups are seeking to line up primary challengers for TPA backers like Wyden.