Rep. Paul Ryan said Sunday the House has the votes to approve President Barack Obama’s free trade initiative.
The House Ways and Means Committee chairman is sponsoring a bill that would hand Obama “trade promotion authority” – which would allow him to negotiate the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership and submit it to Congress for an up-or-down vote with no amendments.
In an unusual alignment, Republicans are aligning with Obama on the issue, while members of his own party – as well as some tea partiers – oppose him.
“We will have the votes. We’re doing very well. We’re gaining a lot of steam and momentum,” Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, told CNN’s Brianna Keilar Sunday on “State of the Union.”
Ryan argued that the deal, which covers a total of 40% of the world’s economy, is key to maintaining U.S. economic influence in a region where countries are increasingly falling into China’s orbit.
He said trade promotion authority gives lawmakers a chance to instruct the White House on what to negotiate in the deal.
“There’s a misnomer,” he said. “It’s really not granting the President authority; it’s actually Congress asserting its prerogatives, its authority in how trade agreements are done.”
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also praised Obama for his pro-trade deal lobbying effort.
“President Obama has done his country a service by taking on his base and pushing back on some of the more ridiculous rhetoric we’ve heard,” McConnell told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos Sunday on “This Week.”
He also predicted the measure will pass the Senate.
“Yes, we’ll pass it. We’ll pass it later this week,” he said.
The Senate advanced trade promotion authority beyond a major procedural hurdle last week and could vote this week. The House, though, could be closer – with more Republicans opposing Obama and fewer Democrats backing him.