The White House plans to withdraw its nominee for a top trade job after running into opposition from a key Senate Democrat over his support for free trade deals.

Nelson Cunningham will instead take a senior adviser post at the State Department that doesn’t require Senate confirmation, according to a Biden administration official. 

President Joe Biden had nominated Cunningham in January to be deputy at the US Trade Representative’s office. The withdrawal of his nomination highlights the growing split between Democrats who support lowering trade barriers and those who believe that such agreements harm American workers.

President Joe Biden

Cunningham’s nomination had garnered support from many Democrats, but not Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, who faces a tough reelection campaign in November against the Republican nominee, Bernie Moreno. 

Brown sits on the Senate Finance Committee, which approves USTR nominees, and said in January he could not support Cunningham given his support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

Cunningham served as the top lawyer for the Senate Judiciary Committee when Biden led it in the 1990s, and the White House wanted to find a role for him in the administration, the official said.