House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) can be added to the growing list of congressional leaders who insist there will not be a vote on the Trans-Pacific Partnership during the session of Congress after the November election.
“It’s not gonna come to a vote,” the second-highest ranking House Democrat said in a video interview on Wednesday.
He was responding to a question from independent journalist Peter Callahan about whether he would back the controversial trade pact if it came up for a vote.
“Neither Clinton’s for it, Trump’s not for it. The majority leader has indicated he’s not going to put it on the floor,” Hoeyer concluded. “It’s not coming to a vote.”
Callahan interviewed Hoyer on behalf of online progressive heavyweight CREDO Action and We Act Radio, a Washington-based liberal media production house.
CREDO, which has been active in efforts to block TPP’s passage, posted the video of the exchange to its Facebook page Wednesday afternoon, along with a message encouraging activists to keep up the pressure.
The TPP, a trade agreement between the U.S. and 11 Pacific Rim nations, already faced steep political odds. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have both said there will not be a vote on TPP in the lame-duck session of Congress.
The comments from Hoyer, who typically represents the more pro-business wing of the Democratic Party, suggest that TPP’s prospects are even dimmer.
Some progressive activists have fretted that Hillary Clinton’s appointment of Ken Salazar, a prominent TPP supporter, as head of her transition team suggests she is prepared to reverse her opposition to the deal. Clinton refused TPP critics’ entreaties to publicly call on Congress not to vote on it.
That Hoyer pointed to her opposition as a reason not to bring the deal up for a vote indicates that her stance is firmer than skeptics might have thought.
If TPP were to come to a vote, the fast-track authority Congress voted to grant the president would ensure that the deal would not be amended or filibustered.
President Barack Obama claims TPP is essential to countering China’s influence in the Asia-Pacific region and insists it has the highest human rights standards of any trade pact in U.S. history.
The deal’s critics argue it will exacerbate income inequality, harm the environment and empower corporations to challenge domestic laws using an opaque international arbitration system.