Although negotiations are now finished between the twelve nations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, at least one key ally in the US must be brought back into the fold before the measure could hope to successfully navigate adoption in the U.S. The Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Orrin Hatch, was an early supporter of the TPP based on a 12-year patent priotection provision for U.S. pharmaceutical companies. With protections in the final text only guaranteed for 5 years, the Senator has withdrawn his support for the pact, and even publicly suggested it be renegotiated to address the pharmaceutical issue.
As President Pro-Tempore of the Senate, Chairman Hatch is third in line for the White House. More important to the fortunes of the TPP is that his Senate Finance commmittee is responsible for trade matters and without his support, the TPP cannot even be voted on by the Senate. With the presidential election looming, the timing of any vote would be crucial to passage of the controversial accord, and Senator Hatch controls when and whether the matter gets to the floor of his chamber. The Obama administration will need to extract the support of the Senator if it is to ensure passage of its landmark trade accord.