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Week Ending August 7, 2015

The House and Senate are both now in recess until the day after Labor Day.  When they return, congressional work will be centered on the need for legislation to set spending levels for discretionary programs and fund general government operations into the new fiscal year, beginning October 1.

Negotiating Push Fails to Yield Trade Agreement

Negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) broke down last Saturday when trade ministers for the 12 countries involved failed to come to terms on several outstanding issues.  Initially, the U.S. suggested that the trade ministers might reconvene at the end of August to try and wrap up the agreement.  But it appears that the sticking points are great enough that more work will be done at the staff level before trade ministers meet again.  One of the areas of disagreement is over patent protections for pharmaceutical drugs.  The U.S. has been adamant about including provisions in the TPP that would block efforts, supported by AFSCME, to reduce lengthy delays in the introduction of less expensive, generic drugs to compete with brand name drugs.  The failure to reach an agreement last week makes it less likely that a vote in Congress on the TPP will take place before the end of the year.

(Barbara Coufal-

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