The House voted down (126-302) a financial aid plan for workers displaced by trade deals and, in so doing, dealt a blow to the fast-track trade authority sought by President Obama. The Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) measure was subsequently approved by a 219-211 margin but, under the rules for debate, the overall package could not advance unless both parts cleared the House.
The House today also passed (240-190) the so-called Customs bill that contained the immigration "fix" Republican leaders said would prevent trade deals from addressing immigration issues. The measure did not allay the concerns of Republicans who said it was ineffective and may never get signed into law.
Prior to the vote on the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) bill, which included the worker aid, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said “I will be voting to slow down fast-track…Today we have an opportunity to slow down. Whatever the deal is with other countries, we want a better deal for American workers.” The majority of Democrats were already prepared to oppose TAA as a means to take down TPA, but Pelosi’s speech opened the floodgates.
As Pelosi noted, the TPA is now “stuck in the station,” although Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, may schedule an opportunity to reconsider the failing TAA vote next week. This would give the president the weekend to lobby for more votes but he is unlikely to change many after today’s blowout. In today's vote, only 40 Democrats voted for TAA, along with 86 Republicans.
Fear of the loss of American jobs drove opposition to the TPA. Most Democrats feared the Trans Pacific Partnership and forthcoming trade deals would shift jobs to other nations, as trade pacts have done in the past. Many Republicans feared the TPA would yield Congress' power to the president and, thereby, make it impossible to stop the importation of more foreign workers under "living agreements" such as the TPP.
Read more in the Washington Post.
Updated: Fri, Jun 26th 2015 @ 3:40pm EDT