The White House conceded Tuesday that President Obama has lost two of his most important battles, surrendering on a massive free-trade deal and the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Merrick Garland.
Responding to President-elect Donald Trump’s vow to withdraw the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership on his first day in office, White House press secretary Josh Earnest acknowledged the chances of the pact being approved by Congress “are not very good.” He called it “a significant missed opportunity for the American people.”
“That’s going to put U.S. businesses and U.S. workers at a disadvantage,” Mr. Earnest said of the deal’s demise.
The president pushed the 12-nation agreement as the biggest economic proposal of his second term.
Mr. Earnest also said it’s likely that Mr. Trump’s “deeply disappointing” action will benefit China.
“Right now, even as we speak, China is seeking to advance their own trade agreement with countries in this region,” he said.
On the Garland nomination, the White House conceded that his nomination is essentially dead, although Mr. Obama doesn’t intend to withdraw his nomination to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
“His treatment and the way this situation is likely to end is a scar on the institution of the United States Senate,” Mr. Earnest said. “It is a scar that I do not anticipate will go away quickly.”
Senate Republicans refused to hold a hearing on the nomination, saying the next president should be allowed to fill the vacancy.