Republican members aren’t buying what President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner are selling when it comes to Obamatrade, and support for the president’s key trade agenda item is starting to fall apart rapidly amid grassroots pressure.
“I’m voting against Trade Promotion Authority,” Rep. Paul Cook (R-CA) told Breitbart News on Tuesday.
I don’t trust President Obama to negotiate in good faith. In November, I signed a letter to President Obama highlighting Congress’ authority to set the terms of trade in Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution. Voting for Trade Promotion “Fast Track” authority would essentially give President Obama a blank check to negotiate trade deals without Congressional input. We’ve seen too many bad deals happen on his watch, and his abuse of executive orders has demonstrated his complete disregard for the law. I don’t want to see it happen one more time.
Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), through a spokesman, confirmed he’s leaning no on Obamatrade.
“As of now, Congressman Gosar is leaning no,” Gosar spokesman Steven Smith said in an email. “He has concerns about the consequences of granting the president fast-track authority which would force Congress to vote on his trade agreement without any opportunity to offer amendments.”
Both Gosar and Cook were previously publicly undecided.
Many more Republican members who are publicly undecided are actually planning to vote against the legislation should leadership take it up for a vote, sources in many of their offices tell Breitbart News.
According to a whip list that The Hill newspaper has been keeping since early May—it was last updated on Tuesday shortly after noon—at least 30 Republicans will vote no, (which includes several “lean” no votes). Those include Reps. Justin Amash (R-MI), Lou Barletta (R-PA), Dave Brat (R-VA), Mo Brooks (R-AL), Ken Buck (R-CO), Curt Clawson (R-FL), Chris Collins (R-NY), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Jeff Duncan (R-SC), John Duncan (R-TN), Chris Gibson (R-NY), Duncan Hunter (R-CA), Walter Jones (R-NC), Jim Jordan (R-OH), David Joyce (R-OH), John Katko (R-NY), Steve King (R-IA), Raul Labrador (R-ID), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), Thomas Massie (R-KY), David McKinley (R-WV), Gary Palmer (R-AL), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Steve Russell (R-OK), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Tim Walberg (R-MI), Ted Yoho (R-FL), Don Young (R-AK), and Ryan Zinke (R-MT).
Add Gosar and Cook to that list and GOP opposition that’s public is now at 32, but The Hill also misses some members who are publicly against it as well.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) told the New York Times he’s against it, and the Times reported in that piece that Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) is against it as well. Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX) is against it, as he told Breitbart News before, and again there are several more Republicans who have expressed either serious concerns with the deal or have privately told Breitbart News or other conservative groups who have confirmed those members’ positions in opposition to Obamatrade to Breitbart News.
The total number of definite Republican no votes on Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) that would fast track the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal—the text of which is currently being kept hidden from the American people—is probably higher than 123, some sources close to the process tell Breitbart News, despite GOP leadership’s public statements that they will pass by voting on it soon — perhaps this week.
One aide who works for a member who isn’t publicly against it yet but is opposed to Obamatrade said that Boehner will probably will probably have to break the so-called Hastert Rule, which informally requires a majority of Republicans — 124, since there are 246 total House Republicans — to support a piece of legislation before it’s called to the House floor for a vote.
If that’s the case, with less than 20 Democrats supportive of the deal publicly, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi would need to deliver close to or more than 100 Democrat votes to get over the golden 218 marker to pass a bill. That seems, quite frankly, impossible if Republicans are as opposed to this as it seems.
In fact, the situation is devolving so rapidly out of control for leadership that at a “Whip Briefing” for legislative staffers on Monday, GOP leadership officials wouldn’t even commit that there will ever be a vote to pass Obamatrade—never mind confirm when.
“They basically said we are not committing to a TPA vote at this time and we will let you know if and when we decide to have a vote,” one House GOP aide who was present told Breitbart News. “I think there was more confusion than there was clarity walking out of that meeting. Does that mean not this week? Not ever? Do they really not have the votes to do this? I think everybody in the whole conference, they’re pretty confused about whether they have the votes.”
What leadership is saying behind closed doors is very different from what they’re saying publicly. Boehner and his top allies, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Whip Steve Scalise, Rules Committee chairman Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) and freshman class leadership “liaison” Rep. Mimi Walters (R-CA)—along with chief Obamatrade architect House Ways and Means Committee chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)—all publicly claim there’s enough support for it.
Boehner ally Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH) even used the weekly GOP address this week to tout Obamatrade, saying Republicans are going to pass it soon through the House. What’s interesting, though, is that pretty much the entire GOP squad pushing Obamatrade has no idea what they are talking about since none of them will say if they’ve been to the secret room inside the Capitol to read the deal they’re touting. Tiberi’s office, McCarthy’s, Ryan’s and Boehner’s, are each refusing to answer if they’ve been to the secret room to read the TPP text that TPA would fast-track through Congress. Sessions’ and Walters’ offices each admitted their bosses hadn’t been to the room to read Obamatrade. Scalise’s office wouldn’t answer yes or no but answered a question that wasn’t asked when pushed on whether he went to the secret room.
Scalise’s office, however, told Breitbart News that a vote could come on Obamatrade this week or next — but nothing is set in stone yet.
“A vote could come as early as this week, possibly next,” Scalise spokesman Chris Bond said in an email.
It remains to be seen what happens next, but it’s clear now that Obamatrade proponents are in trouble. Other sources tell Breitbart News that phone calls from constituents into the Capitol are pouring in, and those calls have members very afraid of the backlash they’d face should they vote for Obamatrade. Leadership might save this thing, but the American people rising up against it with grassroots pressure is making a demonstrable difference. The fight’s nowhere near over yet, but grassroots outsiders are starting to tilt the scales.
Some sources have suggested to Breitbart News that this Obamatrade collapse in the House is very similar to the collapse of amnesty in the House in the last Congress. After Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)–now a 2016 GOP presidential candidate, who’s ironically made Obamatrade a key plank of his presidential campaign in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations even though he didn’t read the TPP text before voting to fast-track it–pushed the “Gang of Eight” amnesty bill through the U.S. Senate in early 2013, House Republicans were expected by everyone in Washington to take it up, swallow the poison pill and pass it. Shocking everyone inside the Beltway instead, Republicans in the House rejected it and shut down amnesty for illegal aliens. Just like Obamatrade now, the chief House architect of the amnesty agenda last Congress was Paul Ryan.