The defeat of a key aspect of the Obama trade agenda — Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) — was “disappointing,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) says.
Friday, the House defeated TAA 126-302, in a striking rebuke to President Obama who had hours earlier met with the Democratic caucus to make the case for fast-track trade authority.
Instead of support, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) took to the House floor minutes before the vote series on TAA and Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) to say she would be opposing the TAA to “slow down” the fast-track. A majority of Democrats and Republicans joined Pelosi in defeating the TAA.
The House approved the TPA 219-211. Without the TAA, however, the TPA cannot be sent to the Obama’s desk.
Republican leadership, in an unusual alliance with the Obama administration, had worked to get the fast-track authority. It would grant Obama the ability to negotiate and submit international trade deals to Congress for just an up or down vote, no amendments.
According to Boehner, Republicans did their part to move the TPA.
“Republicans did our part, and we remain committed to free trade because it is critical to creating jobs and growing our economy,” he said. “I’m pleased that a bipartisan House majority supported trade promotion authority. This is an opportunity for the Democratic Party to take stock and move forward in a constructive fashion on behalf of the American people.”
With fast-track stalled in the House, The Washington Post reports that Boehner will bring the TAA back up for consideration Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Friday afternoon Pelosi pointed the finger of blame at the GOP.
“The overwhelming vote today is a clear indication that it’s time for Republicans to sit down with Democrats to negotiate a trade promotion authority bill that is a better deal for the American people,” Pelosi wrote in a letter to Democratic colleagues.
She further signaled would be more willing negotiate on TAA if the House moves on the highway bill.
“The prospects for passage of a such a bill will greatly increase with the passage of a robust highway bill,” she wrote. “We look forward to working in a bipartisan way for a trade promotion authority bill that has better transparency, more consultation with Congress and stronger protections for Congressional priorities – especially labor rights and the environment.”