The White House is signaling optimism that Congress will pass fast-track Trade Promotion Authority, but remains cautious about declaring victory on a vote it sees as critical to President Obama’s second term agenda.
Speaking to reporters, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest admitted that they were not viewing the upcoming vote as a “slam-dunk.”
“Outbreaks of bipartisanship in the House of Representatives in the last couple of years have not been common, so that’s why I would not characterize it as a slam-dunk,” Earnest said cautiously during the White House Press Briefing yesterday.
According to White House officials, Obama is engaged with members of both parties to pull the trade agreement across the finish line on Friday.
Earnest says that, if passed, the legislation would give Obama “the authority to negotiate the most progressive trade bill that’s ever passed.”
He added that the president was “optimistic” about the chances of the legislation after seeing “sustained commitment” from both parties on Capitol Hill.
Referring to leaders on Capitol Hill, Earnest admitted that “their work is cut out for them.”
“Even in the most functional of Congresses, trying the work across the party aisle is difficult, particularly when it comes to something as complicated as trade policy,” he said. “But what I would say is that we continue to be confident that Democrats and Republicans can work together to build a bipartisan majority to pass this legislation.”
Obama has worked to project confidence for the successful passage of the legislation, especially while meeting with world leaders at the G-7 Summit in Germany.
“I’m not going to hypothesize about not getting it done. I intend to get it done,” he said on Monday, describing the legislation as “the right thing to do.”