Friday, House Democrats bucked President Obama when they voted to torpedo “trade authority.”
As Amy wrote this morning:
The debate surrounding congressional approval of “fast track” trade authority has officially taken a swan dive through the looking glass.
Obama wants it. House republicans want it. Democrats, for the most part, are ready to vote “no”—their union backers are making them more nervous than the White House ever could—even if it prevents their president from advancing more legacy-building legislation.
This afternoon, the AP reports with Nancy Pelosi at the helm, House Democrats sunk President Obama’s trade authority hopes. From Yahoo News:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The House derailed a high-profile trade bill on Friday in a humiliating defeat for President Barack Obama inflicted by Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and dozens of union-backed lawmakers from his own party.
The 302-126 vote left the legislation in perilous limbo, and came not long after Obama journeyed to the Capitol with a last-minute personal plea to fellow Democrats to give him power to negotiate global trade deals that Congress could approve or reject but not change.
“I don’t think you ever nail anything down around here. It’s always moving,” the president said as he departed — a prescient remark given Pelosi’s dramatic announcement later on the House floor.
“Slow down the fast track to get a better deal for the American people,” the California lawmaker said in a speech that drew handshakes and hugs from Democrats have labored for months to reject Obama’s request for “fast track” authority in trade talks.
…The outcome was also a triumph for organized labor, which had lobbied lawmakers furiously to oppose the measure that union officials warned would lead to the loss of thousands of American jobs.
“The president needs to realize we all represent our districts,” said Rep. Gene Green, D-Texas. He said labor opposition to the effort was “overwhelming.”
The pivotal vote came on a portion of the legislation to renew federal aid for workers who lose their jobs through imports.
That is normally a Democratic priority, but in this case, rank and file party members saw its defeat as a way to scuttle the entire legislation. As a result, only 40 Democrats voted for it, and 144 were opposed. Republicans broke 158-86 against it.
A second roll call followed on the trade negotiating powers themselves, and the House approved that measure, 219-211. But under the rules in effect, the overall legislation, previously approved by the Senate, could not advance to the White House unless both halves were agreed to.
That made the day’s events something less than a permanent rejection of the legislation. Republican Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and a supporter of the measure, told reporters, “This isn’t over yet.”
Pelosi said the bill was “stuck in the station,” suggesting that changes could get it moving again.
Even so, it was unclear how majority Republicans and the White House could make that happen.
…”Basically the president tried to both guilt people and then impugn their integrity,” said Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., one of the most outspoken opponents of the legislation.
Another Democrat, Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee, said Obama had told Democrats that “his whole philosophy, life, everything he’s done has been to help people. And he thinks he’s doing that with this trade agreement.”
More developments as they come.
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