The house just voted to extend the trade vote until July 30th. How they voted below.
Obama’s trade plan in critical condition
U.S. Democrats are still opposed to anything that would advance the president’s free trade pact.
Congressional leaders and the White House are quickly finding there’s no easy option to revive President Barack Obama’s free trade initiative, leaving the White House’s top legislative priority in critical condition after Democrats turned against it in droves last week.
Millions of dollars and countless hours have been spent trying to pass Trade Promotion Authority, a key component in President Barack Obama’s quest to strike a trade deal with 11 Pacific Rim countries. But Congress is now hung up on Trade Adjustment Assistance, a job training and aid program which typically rides alongside trade deals. One hundred and forty four Democrats abandoned Obama on the TAA bill, which needs to pass in order to send the legislation to the White House.
Party leaders in both houses of Congress are in touch with the White House in an attempt to figure out how to advance the legislation.
But House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, speaking to reporters Monday, said “the best option right now” is for “the Democrats come to their senses” and back TAA.
It’s not that simple, though.
Pro-trade Democrats, including those close to the White House, would like to see Speaker John Boehner hold one vote on TAA and fast-track authority. Boehner (R-Ohio) split the vote last week, to give Republicans a chance to vote for fast-track authority, and Democrats a chance to vote for TAA. Since that failed, Democrats believe Boehner should put it back together, the theory being pro-trade Republicans and Democrats would vote for the legislation and send it to Obama’s desk.
But top House Republicans say there is no way that bill can pass the chamber, since scores of GOP lawmakers would dissent, due to objections to TAA.
“No chance of that passing,” one senior GOP lawmaker said. “None.”
Another option being floated, according to several sources, would be for leaders to insert TAA into an otherwise non-controversial customs bill, which was passed overwhelmingly by the House last week. House GOP leaders are wary, though, because they think the inclusion of TAA could sink the bill.
Top House Republicans say there is no way that bill can pass the chamber.
Of course, Boehner could try to force another vote on TAA and hope that Obama can flip upwards of 70 Democrats. That’s also extremely unlikely.
A less plausible option would be to try to insert TAA into another must-pass bill. But Democrats seem ready to oppose any legislation that includes TAA.
The speaker could also try to pass fast-track authority on its own, without TAA attached. But at least some of the 29 Democrats who voted for fast track might oppose the legislation if help for workers displaced by trade isn’t part of the package. Senior aides doubt the Senate can pass a fast-track bill without the job training piece.
“We’ve always said that the price of getting TPA is TAA,” Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch of Utah said.
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) was equally circumspect about the prospect of fast-track authority without job training.
“We will try to do the best we can depending on what the House can pass,” he said Monday. “If they can pass something, I’m sure we will try… It’s too important to give up on.”
Leaving a GOP leadership meeting Monday evening, McCarthy and Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) both told POLITICO there have been no firm decisions on how to proceed. But Republicans see this as Obama’s problem to solve.
“We obviously did a lot of heavy lifting over here to get the bill passed. I know the House leadership is trying to come up with a way forward,” Cornyn said. “But the truth is this is the president’s problem and it’s the Democrats who basically cut him off at the knees.”
To that end, House Republican leaders are considering holding another vote on TAA this week, and they have crafted a process to give themselves a few days to make a final decision. That vote would, in part, serve to highlight the pervasive Democratic disarray. But even passing a measure on the floor to give themselves more time would prove difficult.
The White House, meanwhile, continues to argue that Democratic opposition to TAA is nothing more than a procedural snag that House Republican leadership needs to work out. That comment has infuriated Democrats and Republicans alike, who recognize the stiff opposition the package faces.
“There’s a bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives for trade adjustment assistance,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said. “The reason it didn’t pass at the end of last week is because there are some procedural differences that have to be ironed out.”
White House officials have been reaching out to lawmakers since Friday’s ill-fated vote, but there doesn’t appear to be an all-out blitz from Obama’s team. Earnest said that White House chief of staff Denis McDonough had spoken with Pelosi and McCarthy by phone. He also said that Obama had tried to call Boehner but that as of mid-day Monday, he hadn’t heard back.
FINAL VOTE RESULTS FOR ROLL CALL 366
(Republicans in roman; Democrats in italic; Independents underlined)
H RES 315 YEA-AND-NAY 16-Jun-2015 1:56 PM
QUESTION: On Agreeing to the Resolution
BILL TITLE: Providing for consideration of the bill (H.R. 2596) to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2016 for intelligence and intelligence-related activities of the United States Government, the Community Management Account, and the Central Intelligence Agency Retirement and Disability System, and for other purposes to extend the Trade vote until July 30th.
—- YEAS 236 —
Hice, Jody B.
—- NAYS 189 —
Boyle, Brendan F.
Doyle, Michael F.
Johnson, E. B.
Lujan Grisham (NM)
Luján, Ben Ray (NM)
Sánchez, Linda T.
—- NOT VOTING 8 —