White House to work with Congress on TPP vote timing

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman in Washington January 27, 2015. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Obama administration will work with Congress on the best time to bring a 12-nation Pacific trade pact before lawmakers for a vote, the top U.S. trade official said on Thursday. U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said the administration, which gave 90 days notice last week of its intent to sign the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), was doing everything within its power to move the deal along. "The president made clear he'd like to get this done as early as possible next year and we're going to consult with Congress about what the most appropriate time is to bring it forward for a vote," Froman said on a call with reporters. The TPP, which had a tepid initial reception from lawmakers, cannot come before Congress until March at the earliest and the administration is unlikely to bring it up for consideration if it is unclear whether there are enough votes to pass it. Congress must approve the TPP before the trade pact, which seeks to cut trade barriers and set common standards in 40 percent of the world economy, can take effect. (Reporting by Krista Hughes; Editing by Alan Crosby)