President Obama's proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) would connect the United States with 11 other nations in a free-trade area encompassing 40 percent of the world's economic output. It promises to open Japan's notoriously closed market to U.S. products more than ever and to cement U.S. leadership in a region that could otherwise fall increasingly under the sway of China.
Mr. Obama's negotiation team is hard at work on the final details, and the White House needs congressional approval of a special law known as trade promotion authority to strengthen its hand in the talks. In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Mr. Obama urged Congress to pass that measure, which would expedite a vote on the eventual agreement, as soon as possible.
Apparently, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has other ideas. "I'm against 'fast track,' " he announced Wednesday, using a colloquial term for trade promotion authority. "I think everyone would be well-advised just not to push this right now."