Obama’s Fast-Track Trade Bill to Get New Vote in House Thursday

June 17, 2015 08:16 PM
Obama’s Fast-Track Trade Bill to Get New Vote in House Thursday

The House plans to vote Thursday on a bill to revive President Barack Obama’ fast-track trade proposal, members were told Wednesday.

The Republican majority’s chief vote counter, Representative Steve Scalise, advised members of plans for the vote after leaders decided to attach the fast-track proposal, known as trade-promotion authority, to an unrelated bill.

The bill may pass, said Representative Ron Kind, a Wisconsin Democrat, depending on assurances from Republican leaders that a separate measure assisting workers displaced by trade also would be approved.

The Republican plan is designed to bypass House Democrats’ refusal on June 12 to pass the workers’ aid plan as a means of blocking the fast-track bill from going to Obama for his signature.

House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released a joint statement that said, “We are committed to ensuring both TPA and TAA get votes in the House and Senate and are sent to the president for signature.” TAA is the worker-assistance program.

Most Republicans support the fast-track measure, sought by Obama to help his administration complete a Pacific Rim trade deal called the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It would let the president submit trade pacts to Congress for an expedited, up- or-down vote without amendments.

The Republican plan would require the fast-track proposal to return to the Senate. The worker-assistance program, which expires Sept. 30, would be attached to another trade bill granting trade preferences to poorer countries, Kind said.

The fast-track and worker-aid measures passed the Senate in May as a single bill.

‘TAA Will Pass’

Boehner, an Ohio Republican, assured pro-fast track Democrats in a meeting Tuesday that the worker aid program, called Trade Adjustment Assistance, will become law, said Representative Gerry Connolly, a Virginia Democrat.

“He said declaratively, ‘TAA will pass,’” Connolly told reporters.

While Democrats ordinarily support the aid for workers, many of them oppose fast-track on the grounds that trade deals have cost U.S. manufacturing jobs, and they used the procedural linkage between the two to stall fast track.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest stopped short of a veto threat if Republicans pass fast track without worker assistance, but said “it won’t come to that” because any bill will require Democratic support, and they want worker assistance.

“The only legislative strategy that the president will support is a strategy that results” in both the fast-track and worker-aid measures reaching Obama’s desk, Earnest said. Such a strategy “will require the support of Democrats in both the House and the Senate,” he said.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat who led the rebellion against Friday’s trade votes, sidestepped a question Wednesday about the Republican proposals.

‘Changing It'

“I really don’t know what they are doing. They’ve changed it so many times. They keep changing it,” Pelosi said.

Second-ranking Senate Republican John Cornyn of Texas said Democrats will have to trust Republicans to allow a vote on the worker-assistance plan.

“As you know, trust is in short supply up here, but I am not sure what other option the president or the Democrats who are pro-trade have,” Cornyn said.

The Republicans strategy, which emerged Tuesday, adds the fast-track language to a separate bill that has already been passed by the House and amended by the Senate. The House would pass the bill again and return it to the Senate for a final vote.

The measure being used as the vehicle for that vote is a public-safety retirement bill, H.R. 2146, sponsored by Representative Dave Reichert, a Washington Republican. The measure passed the House 407-5 on May 12 and the Senate by voice vote on June 4.


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Spell Check

Dave Burke
Smithfield, PA
6/18/2015 08:56 AM

  Your are right Linda but this is about the "Elites" agenda. Money and control. only way this will be corrected, oust all the Elites in power and that is both parties.

Linda I
Philadelphia, TN
6/18/2015 08:05 AM

  The TPP follows in the footsteps of other unfettered free trade agreements like NAFTA and CAFTA that have been supported by multinational corporations and that have cost America millions of decent-paying jobs. Since 2001, nearly 60,000 manufacturing plants in this country have been shut down, and we have lost almost 5 million decent-paid manufacturing jobs. NAFTA alone led to the loss of almost three-quarters of a million jobs — the Permanent Normalized Trade Agreement with China cost America four times that number: almost 3 million jobs. The TPP would also give multinational corporations the ability to challenge laws passed in the United States that could negatively impact their “expected future profits.” Take, for example, Phillip Morris, a company using this process to sue Australia and Uruguay for passing legislation designed to prevent children in those countries from smoking; or a French waste management firm suing Egypt for over $100 million for increasing the minimum wage and improving labor laws. The US suffers from a $40 to $60 billion (with a B) trade deficit every MONTH. This adds to our economic woes in several ways. Trade deficits tripled after the passage of NAFTA causing loss of jobs, income inequality and burgeoning debt. Everyone does not gain from trade. Many, many of us come out distinct losers. Putting aside the definition of “gain” for the moment, with the nation’s trade deficit exploding exponentially, it’s hard to see how our “trading partners” are not benefiting at our expense. Wages have stagnated with collective bargaining becoming a thing of the past, the environment is collapsing, poverty is increasing, health and safety standards deteriorating, growing financialization is killing the domestic productive economy, etc. The vast majority doesn’t just “feel” worse off – we are worse off. As small farmers, workers and citizens we do not need more free trade, we need fair trade. It is anti-democratic for our representatives to pass secret


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