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White House Takes Next Step in Fight for Congressional Approval of TPP

The Obama administration on Friday took the next step toward advancing the Trans-Pacific Partnership by readying a draft document that’s required for congressional consideration of the 12-nation trade agreement.

The draft Statement of Administration Action that the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative published online today lays out how the administration would implement the trade deal if it’s approved by Congress. The fast-track law that Congress approved last year requires the administration to submit the draft at least 30 days before sending Congress the final statement and implementing legislation.

Under the fast-track law, also known as trade promotion authority, both chambers of Congress must approve the agreement with an up-or-down vote, without amendments, in order for the trade deal to move toward implementation. The submission of the draft statement is an indication that the Obama administration still wants Congress to approve the agreement this year, despite strong opposition from opponents like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

“I am disappointed by the president’s decision to continue pushing forward on the disastrous Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement that will cost American jobs, harm the environment, increase the cost of prescription drugs and threaten our ability to protect public health,” Sanders said today in a statement. “In my view, it is now time for the leadership of the Democratic Party in the Senate and the House to join Secretary Clinton and go on the record in opposition to holding a vote on this job-killing trade deal during the lame-duck session of Congress and beyond.”

Ilana Solomon, the responsible trade director at the Sierra Club, said in a separate statement that today’s release was “all for show” in order to distract from Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s hardened opposition to the deal.

A spokesman for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative did not immediately return a request for comment.