The Year in Washington

December 29, 2015, 6:00 PM UTC
Large Storm System From Midwest Makes Its Way East
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 13: (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Photograph by Mark Wilson — Getty Images

The staff of Fortune recently assembled the best business moments of 2015. Here’s one of our picks.

In a year where a businessman is the Republican frontrunner for the presidential nomination, it was remarkably hard for business to get much traction in D.C.

The good: TPP

Big business faced an unexpectedly stiff challenge advancing its top priority in Washington this year—the massive, 12-nation trade agreement known as the Trans Pacific Partnership. Labor and environmental groups rallied Democratic opposition while surging rightwing populism made traditionally friendly Republican rank and file resistant. But working with an odd-bedfellows alliance that paired President Obama and his team with GOP leaders in Congress, the corporate lobby helped eke out a key procedural win for the deal. As a result, it only needs a simple majority to clear Congress when it comes up for a vote, likely next year. Hurdles remain—onetime champion Hillary Clinton now opposes it—yet the deal is moving forward.

The bad: The Ex-Im Bank

Major exporters (think: Boeing (BA), Caterpillar (CAT), and GE (GE)) suffered a surprise blow when rightwing Republicans managed to kill the charter for the Export Import Bank. The once-sleepy, Depression-era agency exists to extend credit financing for American manufacturers selling their wares abroad. Free-market conservatives seized on it as a symbol of the coziness between business and government they want to root out. Their victory appears short-lived: A bipartisan coalition is reviving the bank as part of a broader highway package. Its lapse nevertheless testifies to the new hostility corporate interests face from some quarters of the GOP, a formerly stalwart ally.

The ugly: Everything else

Congressional Republicans consolidated power, but besides nudging trade forward, they couldn’t use it for much (thanks, Tea Party). That meant other priorities that GOP leaders shared with business leaders—think wholesale rewrites of tax and immigration laws—have remained stuck in neutral.

This article is part of Fortune’s Best in Business 2015 package of highlights and lowlights of the year in business, politics and the economy by the writers and editors of Fortune. To see the entire package, click here.

For more on politics, watch this Fortune video:

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