Hillary Clinton wants to know the final contours of the legislation that would give the president trade promotion authority before making a determination if she would support it, even as criticism mounts over her seeming refusal to take a position now on the issue, her senior campaign advisor said today.
"Secretary [Hillary] Clinton has been very clear that what matters is what's in the final deal. And there is no final trade pact yet," Joel Benenson, Clinton's senior campaign advisor, told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos Sunday on "This Week."
"There's a lot of congressional jockeying going on right now over things like TAA and TPP, acronyms that no voter understands," Benenson added.
Benenson said Clinton's support would hinge on the final details of the trade legislation, which he said had not been resolved.
"The simple issue is in the final deal, will we have the labor protections we need to protect American jobs and protect our wages? Will it protect our national security? Will it address issues like currency manipulation, environmental protection and labor rights overseas? That's what's going to matter. That's what the simple issue is. And that deal doesn't exist yet," Benenson said.
"I think she believes what the deal has at the end of the day is what will matter to the American people and to working people," he added. "All of the rest of this is Washington inside baseball about how we get there. She wants to see the final deal. She wants to make sure it protects American workers, and that's what she's fighting for."
On Friday the House passed Trade Promotion Authority, or TPA, which gives the president authority to negotiate a trade deal with the Pacific nations involved.
Hoping to force a discussion on worker and environmental protections in the future trade deal, House Democrats blocked the passage of Trade Adjustment Assistance, an aid program for U.S. workers displaced by overseas trade. The vote prevented the full trade package from reaching the president's desk.
Despite the initial rejection from House Democrats who rarely buck the president's agenda, the White House remains optimistic that the House will pass the measure in a second vote this week.
"I'm confident that we'll move forward in this," Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said Sunday on "This Week." "The shortest distance theory is seldom a theory that works here in Washington."
Katerina Rosen contributed