The House narrowly gave President Obama’s fast-track trade authority today — but soundly shot down another bill in the package necessary for the overall trade plan.
Trade Promotion Authority passed 219-211, with 54 Republicans — including libertarian and conservative members — voting against the bill and 28 Democrats — ranging from liberals to Blue Dogs — voting in favor. (See the roll call here.)
That’s the fast-track bill which allows the president to negotiate a deal without congressional amendments. Lawmakers just get an up-or-down vote on the final product.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) voted yes. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) voted no.
“We have an opportunity to slow down,” Pelosi said on the floor today in her bucking of Obama. “Whatever the deal is with other countries, we want a better deal for America’s workers.”
Boehner said on the floor that the House needed to pass TPA “not for the president, not for ourselves, but for our kids and our grandkids.”
“We want to make sure that agreement isn’t rushed, and that it isn’t kept secret. And we want to make darn sure that there’s less authority for the president and more authority for the American people,” Boehner said. “That’s what this bill does. It is a means to an end, and that end is more free trade that is good for our economy and our country.”
However, the House shot down a key element of Obama’s trade package.
Trade Adjustment Assistance crashed on a 126-302 vote. Just 86 Republicans and 40 Democrats voted in favor of the bill. (See the roll call here.)
Pelosi also voted against this as “its defeat is the only way we will be able to slow down fast track.”
This, despite the White House personally lobbying Pelosi and other House Democratic leaders this morning, then addressing the full caucus.
Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said he voted in favor of TAA as it “improves the current program because it reestablishes coverage for service sector workers and those who have lost their jobs to increased competition with countries like China.”
“The global economy, technological advancements, and increasing competition will continue to pressure workers and it is essential and only fair that we support and retrain those who lose their jobs as a result. With the Medicare cuts off the table, I voted in support of the House Trade Adjustment Assistance bill because it reestablishes critical training and support to these workers that have lost their jobs through no fault of their own,” Smith said. “Our nation’s economy and success depend on our workers, and the strategy of opposing TAA to stop Trade Promotion Authority risks killing this critical program.”
The Senate passed both last month. Obama said at the time that both bills were key “toward ensuring the United States can negotiate and enforce strong, high-standards trade agreements.”
“I’m confident that the Speaker of the House, if he hasn’t said so already, would be happy to tell you that if trade adjustment assistance doesn’t pass this week, it’s very unlikely to pass before the end of the year,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest warned lawmakers on Thursday. “And what that means is it means that if you’re a member of Congress and you vote against trade adjustment assistance this week, you are adding your name to the death certificate of trade adjustment assistance — because it will go away. And that is a source of significant concern to the president and, I know, many other Democrats on Capitol Hill, because we know how critically important trade adjustment assistance is to middle-class families all across the country.”
Boehner, however, moved to bring the losing portion of the trade plan, TAA, back to the floor next week for a re-vote.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) lauded the House vote as “a victory for America’s working people and for the environment.”
“It is clearly a defeat for corporate America, which has outsourced millions of decent-paying jobs and wants to continue doing just that,” said the presidential candidate.