Conservative Review’s Daniel Horowitz is outraged at the intensity of the fight House Republican Leadership is mounting to get an Obama priority — trade — passed over the objections of conservatives.
In a commentary piece Tuesday, Horowitz recalls the events of the day, which saw the House approving a rule that would allow it to consider Trade Adjustment Assistance — an aspect of the Trade Promotion Authority effort to grant the president fast-track authority to negotiate trade deals — at any time. House GOP leadership also ousted three members: Reps. Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Trent Franks (R-AZ), and Steve Pearce (R-NM) from the Whip team for joining conservatives to buck the party on another rule vote last week.
Typically, rules for debate on a specific bill expire after a few days or a week and cannot be brought to the floor without crafting a new rule. Boehner took the unprecedented step of granting Obamatrade this privileged floor status for a full six weeks so that GOP Leadership and Obama can engage in horse-trading in an attempt to secure the necessary votes for passage.
Instead of awarding this status to something that actually addresses a current crisis, like say, an Iran sanctions bill, GOP leadership has proven the only fight they’re willing to engage in is passing Obama’s trade promotion at all costs.
Horowitz notes that the measure to extend debate was not a stand alone, but rather contained within a larger rule dictating the parameters of debate for an unrelated intelligence authorization bill. For that, he writes, House Speaker John Boehner “engaged in cowardice and deceit.”
Leadership pursued this strategy for two reasons. First, it gives them six weeks to bribe, threaten, cajole, and horse-trade in order to buy off enough votes to pass the final TPA. And once again, they are not negotiating with conservatives by promising them a strong push on important priorities, such as immigration, Iran, Obamacare, or protecting religious liberty. They are fully negotiating with the Democrats and will promise them almost anything in order to consummate their support for their own leader’s trade deal.
And secondly, passage of this duplicitous rule enables leadership to potentially slam the bill on the floor at any moment between now and the August recess. They have the ability to find a vulnerable time for members and pass the trade assistance (and thereby finalize the broader trade package) with a simple voice vote. Leadership has already employed this tactic before. Conservatives have stood guard on the floor to watch for any attempt to voice vote the TAA into law. Now they will have to post sentries on the floor for six more weeks.
According to Horowitz, in leadership’s pursuit of Obamatrade, it is betraying conservatives and ignoring a host of important issues.
Meanwhile, with TAA available for a re-vote though July 30, reports indicate that House leadership is considering yet another separate path to get TPA unstuck.
The new strategy, according to Politico, is for the House to vote on TPA as a stand alone and move both the TPA and TAA through the process separately. The new plan, however, is already being met with wariness in the Senate where pro-trade Democrats who supported the package the first time around think the two bills should move together.