President Obama will seek to enlist Republicans to partner on a major push on trade deals. The administration is moving aggressively in hopes of wrapping up negotiations by the middle of next year on a 12-nation free-trade pact in the Asia-Pacific region before the politics become even more daunting ahead of the 2016 presidential campaign. The Washington Post reported last week the move will test his willingness to pull away from his own party in pursuit of a legacy-burnishing achievement. Already, fellow Democrats are accusing him of abandoning past promises on trade and potentially undermining his domestic priority of reducing income inequality. At issue is Obama’s support for the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which would establish the world’s largest free-trade zone.
The first test could come next month if the new Congress takes up Trade Promotion Authority, making trade deals strictly an up or down vote to fast-track approval.