After years of intense negotiations a deal between the U.S., Japan and 10 Pacific Rim nations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement was finalized on Monday, Oct. 1, 2015. The New York Times reports that for “Mr. Obama the accord could be a legacy-making achievement, drawing together countries representing two-fifths of the global economy, from Canada and Chile to Japan and Australia, into a web of common rules governing trans-Pacific commerce. It is the capstone both of his economic agenda to expand exports and of his foreign policy “rebalance” toward closer relations with fast-growing eastern Asia, after years of American preoccupation with the Middle East and North Africa.”
However, the work on the trade agreement is far from over as the deal must first be sent to Congress to consider, likely in early 2016. President Obama is required to give Congress a legally mandated 90-day notice that he intends to sign the deal. Gaining support from Congress will be no easy feat for President Obama who will have to assemble a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers with opposition to TPP coming from both Democrats and Republicans. Senator and Democratic presidential candidate, Bernie Sanders has already come out against the trade agreement saying, “”I am disappointed but not surprised by the decision to move forward on the disastrous Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement that will hurt consumers and cost American jobs,” according to Politico. Similarly, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has opposed TPP saying, “The only entities to benefit from this trade deal will be other countries, particularly China and Japan, and big corporations in America,” reports Breitbart. President Obama relied on support of a similar bipartisan coalition, leaning heavily on Republicans, to grant him fast-track trade authority, which enables the accord to be voted on in a simple up-or-down vote without threat of amendments or filibusters.
Since negotiations began the Trans-Pacific Partnership has been a major focus for those on K Street. According to a report by Open Secrets, “Clients who reported lobbying on TPP accounted for nearly thirty percent of all lobby spending. And a lot of that work was concentrated among Washington’s power players: 56 of the top 100 spenders since 2008 lobbied on TPP at least once during that period.” Moreover, Open Secrets reports that since 2008 when the negotiations began, “487 clients paid lobbyists to meet with or contact lawmakers and administration officials to discuss the trade pact” and that TPP was “mentioned 4,875 times in lobbying filings since 2008,” not including third-quarter 2015 lobbying reports, which are due to Congress on Oct. 20 and could further increase this figure.
As Congress considers TPP lobbying will continue to play a significant role for sides both supporting and opposing the trade agreement and Lobby Blog will continue to monitor the results of these efforts.