House blocks trade deal from moving forward but may try again

Article author: 
Chris Chmielenski
Article publisher: 
Numbers USA
Article date: 
Friday, June 12, 2015
Article category: 
National Issues
Article Body: 

After votes earlier today, the House has at least for now set aside the threat of giving Presidents the authority to use trade deals to guarantee other countries the ability to send their workers to take jobs in the U.S.

When the Senate passed the "fast-track" Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill, it set things up so that it could go to the President to be signed only if the House passed BOTH the TPA and a companion Senate trade assistance bill.

The House today was able to pass only one of those must-pass bills, narrowly approving the TPA bill (219-211). But the trade assistance bill garnered only 126 votes, with 302 voting against it. That effectively killed TPA for the present moment.

Republican House Leaders, however, could decide to bring the trade assistance bill back to the floor early next week in hopes of persuading around 90 Members (mostly Democrats) to switch their vote to pass what Pres. Obama and House Majority Leader Boehner consider to be a top priority.

"We are not done with this," House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said.

Moments before the first vote, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who had been silent on the issue, urged Democrats to vote against the two bills, hoping to keep TPA from reaching the President's desk. Pelosi pleaded with Republican House Leadership to focus on legislation that puts American workers first instead of free trade; something she failed to do during the amnesty debates of the past two years.

Pelosi led 144 Democrats in joining 158 Republicans to defeat the trade assistance bill. That was all that was needed today to keep TPA from going to Pres. Obama, who had made a rare personal visit to the Capitol to meet with Democrats in an emotional appeal for them to help him pass TPA as an important part of his legacy.