A whopping 34 courageous conservative Republicans shocked the political world on Thursday by severely wounding—and nearly killing—Obamatrade on a purely procedural vote.
Most importantly about this is that the vote passed with less than a majority of the full House of Representatives. Speaker John Boehner was only able to — on a purely procedural vote — obtain 217, rather than the 218 votes for a majority, votes for the rule. It passed the House 217-212.
The vote, which nearly failed and would have ended Obamatrade right there, was a necessary procedural hurdle—a rule—that was must-pass for Obamatrade to make its way to the House floor for final consideration on Friday. What’s more, the nearly successful effort to kill Obamatrade—which has been lobbied heavily for by House GOP leadership, particularly the program’s chief architect Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)—means that there’s blood in the water around Obamatrade everywhere in the eleventh hour.
The 34 conservatives who stood up to the Washington establishment are: Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI), Rod Blum (R-IA), Dave Brat (R-VA), Ken Buck (R-CO), Jeff Duncan (R-SC), John Fleming (R-LA), Trent Franks (R-AZ), Scott Garrett (R-NJ), Chris Gibson (R-NY), Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Morgan Griffith (R-VA), Andy Harris (R-MD), Jody Hice (R-GA), Walter Jones (R-NC), Jim Jordan (R-OH), Raul Labrador (R-ID), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Thomas Massie (R-KY), Mark Meadows (R-NC), Alex Mooney (R-WV), Mick Mulvaney (R-SC), Gary Palmer (R-AL), Steve Pearce (R-NM), Scott Perry (R-PA), Bill Posey (R-FL), Keith Rothfus (R-PA), Matt Salmon (R-AZ), David Schweikert (R-AZ), Marlin Stutzman (R-IN), Daniel Webster (R-FL), Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) and Ted Yoho (R-FL).
“Americans should be proud that 34 Republicans put their country before their political party today,” Americans for Limited Government president Rick Manning tells Breitbart News. “Their vote to stop Obamatrade dead in its tracks is one that sets the stage for tomorrow’s defeat of enabling him to fast track the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other treaties. The nation owes these 34 heroes a debt of gratitude.”
Glyn Wright, the executive director of Phyllis Schlafly’s Eagle Forum, tells Breitbart News:
We are grateful to the 34 Republicans bold enough to vote NO on the rule. It was a tough vote for many, but a bold statement about the disgraceful policy and process. We hope that more members will show this kind of courage tomorrow. I am told by many Members of Congress that the calls from constituents against the bill are running 20:1. We will see tomorrow who is listening to their constituents and who is beholden to big business and leadership.
The bill would have been killed entirely on the rule—something so extraordinary it virtually never happens, though during the “CRomnibus” fight last year it almost did as well—if it weren’t for eight Democrats bailing out Boehner and Ryan. Those Democrats are: Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Jim Cooper (D-TN), Henry Cuellar (D-TN), John Delaney (D-MD), Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), Rick Larsen (D-WA) and Ron Kind (D-WI).
If those eight Democrats had voted against the rule–as they normally do, as these votes usually fall along party lines–the vote would have failed 220-209 and Obamatrade would have been dead.
It’s almost unheard of for Republicans to vote against a Republican rule, especially in numbers this high. So this was a serious rebuke to GOP leadership.
What’s more, one of the members who voted against the rule, Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ), has been cited by GOP leadership in its efforts to push Obamatrade, so his decision to vote against the rule on this is significant. Salmon, however—who is considering running against Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)—destructed the credibility of a primary effort against McCain with this, as he’s unlikely to be able to gain any real traction on the trail with his continued support for Obamatrade—support his office confirms he maintains after an op-ed he wrote back in late May.
“Rep. Salmon very much supports TPA and intends to vote in favor of it today,” Salmon spokesman Tristan Daedalus told Breitbart News. “He voted against yesterday’s rule because he was against the convoluted procedure that leadership used to bring TPA to the floor. The bottom line is that TPA will allow Congress to set the parameters on negotiating future trade agreements and ensure Congress is included in those negotiations; failing to pass TPA will not stop the President from negotiating in secret, but it will ensure the American people are kept in the dark.”
His office also confirms he doesn’t care that this vote for TPA that he plans to cast later on Friday is politically detrimental to any effort he previously hoped to launch against McCain.
“Any assertion that Rep. Salmon factors political aspirations into how he votes is flatly wrong and grossly incorrect,” Daedalus said. “Rep. Salmon bases all of his votes on principles, not politics.”
Fellow potential McCain challenger state Sen. Kelli Ward has been aggressively publicly against Obamatrade, and she’s now—with Salmon’s support for it—the only remaining credible potential primary challenger to McCain as with this vote it’s hard to see Salmon successfully edging out Ward in the bid to take down McCain for the Senate seat.
With the exception of Salmon, of course, it can be expected that each of the other 34 Republicans who voted against this rule will vote against final passage of TPA on Friday, unless something significant changes. That means there are several more Republicans who will likely vote against TPA on Friday than voted against this rule. They include: Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Ryan Zinke (R-MT), Steve Russell (R-OK), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Lou Barletta (R-PA), Robert Aderholt (R-AL), Michael Burgess (R-TX), Doug Collins (R-GA), John Duncan (R-TN), Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), John Katko (R-NY), Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Don Young (R-AK), and so many more.
Given that eight Democrats voted for this—sources on the left say there may be only 17 Democrats willing and able to go for it, and it’s unclear if Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi will be able to deliver any more than that—there’s a chance Obamatrade may not make it on the House floor on Friday, and it’s certainly been bloodied up enough to possibly fail.
It still remains to be seen what happens next, but one House Republican aide from an office that’s publicly undecided, voted for the rule but is unlikely to support Obamatrade on final passage told Breitbart News that if the outside pressure from grassroots and conservative media continues until the final vote, it’s likely Obamatrade will die on the floor on Friday.
“My sense is the same [that there’s blood in the water everywhere around this deal],” the aide said. “They won’t stop till they have the votes. In reality this is Barack Obama’s fault. He’s never been good at politicking or leadership for that matter so the root of why this will fail is all on him – and the last 6 years of his presidency.”
In fact, that aide has noted, there are plenty of House Republicans who plan to vote no on Obamatrade when it hits the House floor on Friday—even though they’re not public about it at this time. The pressure has been high as leadership lobbies hard for this, but if it doesn’t pass on Friday it’s hard to see GOP leadership succeed in reviving it after it dies if that’s what happens.