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Senate leader dashes hopes for TPP vote before year-end

Reuters WASHINGTON (Reuters) — U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday dashed any remaining hopes that President Barack Obama’s signature Pacific-Rim trade deal would come up for a vote before President-elect Donald Trump takes office in January.

“It’s certainly not going to be brought up this year,” McConnell said of the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership at a news briefing in Washington.

McConnell said any decisions on the TPP or other future trade agreements would be up to Trump, who would still have the authority for four more years to negotiate “better deals” with expedited approval procedures in Congress.

Trump excoriated the TPP on the campaign trail as a “disaster” and “a rape of our country,” tapping into populist anger at globalization, trade and manufacturing job losses that helped propel his candidacy.

In an opinion piece published on Monday, Trump advisers Peter Navarro and Alexander Gray reiterated his opposition to major trade deals.

“Trump will never again sacrifice the U.S. economy on the altar of foreign policy by entering into bad trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement, allowing China into the World Trade Organization, and passing the proposed TPP,” Navarro and Gray wrote in Foreign Policy magazine. “These deals only weaken our manufacturing base and ability to defend ourselves and our allies.”

The Obama administration has been promoting the TPP among lawmakers and industry groups in anticipation of a long-shot, post-election vote despite opposition to the deal by Trump and his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.

While there are many Republican supporters of free trade and the TPP in Congress, McConnell and House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said Wednesday they were now focused on laying the groundwork with Trump to pass Republican-focused health care and tax reform legislation next year.Speech

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