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Wicker Dubious of Obama's Commitment to Promoting Trade

Pritzker says the White House is all in on a trad deal. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll File Photo)

Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker pushed back Tuesday against the suggestion the Obama administration is sending mixed messages about its commitment to a deal on Trade Promotion Authority.  

"I can assure you that the administration is unambiguously committed to Trade Promotion Authority and getting this done in this administration. We have a full court press on in this administration," Pritzker said. "We're happy to address any kind of confusion or any appearance of lack of speaking with one voice because we do speak with one voice." Pritzker's statement came in response to a comment made from  the dais by Mississippi Republican Roger Wicker at Tuesday morning's Senate Commerce hearing on budget requests for both the Commerce and Transportation departments.  

"There is a feeling among many people in this city that actually the administration is not speaking with one clear voice on this. We frankly ... we hear determination and resolve from some parts of the administration, and we get signals from other parts of the administration that so many things need to be added that are absolutely unrealistic and cannot be passed by this Congress, that there are people who doubt that the administration's seriousness of getting something done," Wicker said. "I'm willing to wait until 2017 if we have to, to get TPA done right, but I would hope that a strong signal can be sent from this Obama administration that indeed we are serious about getting something done that actually works."  

Later in the day, Wicker told CQ Roll Call he was expressing concern out of what he's hearing about the negotiations themselves.  

"Specific negotiators continue to throw new wrinkles into the process that have not been part of TPA before, and it indicates to me a lack of serious good-faith negotiations. The president can get a TPA agreement if he wants one, but if he keeps trying to put a lot of extraneous provisions in there that haven't been ... in the past, he's going to have to wait," said Wicker.  

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