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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Marco Rubio still 'reviewing' Trans-Pacific trade deal



More than three months after the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal was finalized, Marco Rubio remains undecided on his support.

“He is still in the process of reviewing it,” said his Senate spokesman, Alex Burgos.

The sweeping trade deal, a top priority of Presidnet Obama, hasn’t gotten a lot of attention in the presidential campaign, but has revealed stark divisions among candidates.

Hillary Clinton, for instance, came out against the deal despite having once called it the “gold standard.” Republicans are on both sides. Jeb Bush supports the deal; Ted Cruz has come out against it.

In a withering attack on Cruz during last week’s debate, Rubio accused Cruz of flip-flopping on giving Obama fast-track authority on trade. “You used to support TPA, now you say you’re against it,” Rubio said, correctly.

If Rubio follows Cruz in opposing the actual deal, it would be a notable departure. Rubio has been a vocal advocate for the idea.

“It will create the opportunity for emerging economies to become the next ‘tigers’ of Asia and enhance linkages between nations in the Western Hemisphere and East Asia,” Rubio wrote in the Wall Street Journal in April 2015.

In May, during a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations, Rubio said it was “more important than ever that Congress give the president trade promotion authority so that he can finalize the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.”

But his support came under attack from some conservatives, who have dubbed the deal as "Obamatrade." When the deal was formally minted in October, Rubio said he would have to review it.

Meanwhile, the White House continues to seek support on Capitol Hill. Wednesday, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn led a press conference about it during a gathering of mayors.

UPDATE: A Bush spokeswoman says he stills supports TPP, "barring seeing the final language." So Bush has given himself some room as Rubio has.

UPDATE 2: Rubio on Jan. 7 told reporters that he was waiting on a report from the International Trade Commission. That report is not due until May.

[Last modified: Thursday, January 21, 2016 4:57pm]


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