Obama's Trade Bill Fosters Cooperation With Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

| by Sasha Melendez-Goldman

President Obama’s Trade Promotion Authority bill is receiving unlikely support from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell is reportedly backing the legislation, which will give Obama trade negotiation authority and ultimately help Obama pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), reports Bloomberg Politics.

While addressing reporters at a press conference Tuesday, McConnell said, “At the risk of having some of you literally faint, I want to compliment the president for the way he’s handling the trade issue."

“It’s been almost an out of body experience but we’ve been working closely with the White House,” he added.

Mitchell announced Tuesday that he will add trade legislation to the Senate schedule, The Wall Street Journal reports. The Trade Promotion Authority bill that will be introduced “fast-tracks” trade authority and allows the President to send agreements to Congress without amendments. 

The long-standing tension between Obama and McConnell has been well documented. In 2010 McConnell was reported saying, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

In February, Obama mocked McConnell for trying to take credit for the growing economy, saying McConnell had been, “trying to block every single thing that we have done to strengthen the economy.”

Despite their history, it appears that McConnell and Obama have found common ground with the TPP. The TPP is a trade agreement between The United States, Canada, Australia, Japan, Peru, New Zealand, Chile, Mexico, Singapore, Vietnam, Brunei and Malaysia. Drafted in 2008, the agreement focuses on protection of intellectual property rights, labor rights, and eliminating tariffs. This is a key goal of Obama’s economic policy for his remaining term, reports The Wall Street Journal.

McConnell stated, “We’re working to get together to try to get it across the finish line."

Although Obama has received McConnell's support with the trade deal, it has also put him at odds with other Democrats. So far, only roughly 16 Democratic Senators have been vocally supportive of the bill, Bloomberg reports. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has proven to also be a chief roadblock in the legislation, stating that he wants Senate to first tackle the federal highway fund, which is nearly bankrupt, and change U.S. surveillance laws, before considering the trade deal.

Sources; Bloomberg Politics, National Journal, The Wall Street Journal, Politicus USA

Photo credit: The White House, upi.com