You stop voting for oligarchy and I’ll stop talking about it.
Yeah, looking at you Democrats.
House Democrats just derailed Obama’s trade agenda
by Timothy B. Lee, Vox
June 12, 2015, 2:06 p.m. ET
he House of Representatives just voted down a crucial piece of President Obama’s trade agenda in a 302-126 vote. The vote is bad news for the Trans Pacific-Partnership, the controversial trade deal Obama is currently negotiating.
The House rejected a bill that would have extended funding for trade adjustment assistance programs, which help workers who have lost their jobs due to foreign competition find new work. The program is traditionally supported by Democrats, but Democrats voted no because they knew passing it would advance the TPP, which most Democrats opposed.
Another piece of Obama’s trade agenda passed in a second vote, 219-211, with mostly Republican support. But the lack of TAA makes the House trade package different from the one in the Senate. The house is expected to hold another vote on TAA next week, but after today’s lopsided vote it won’t be easy for President Obama and Republican leaders to round up the support they need.
The result signals a damaging vote of no confidence in Obama’s trade agenda from members of his own party. It will weaken the president’s bargaining position overseas as he wraps up negotiation over the TPP.
President Obama and his Republican allies aren’t giving up. They held a vote on TPA right after the failure of TAA, passing it by a vote of 219-211. And the House is expected to hold another vote on TAA next week. If that fails, then Obama might try to pass the House bill – without TAA – through the Senate.
Obama’s trade struggles in Congress will weaken his bargaining position abroad. The leaders of other TPP countries such as Japan, Australia, and Chile will have to make politically costly concessions in order to conclude the TPP negotiations. They’re only going to be willing to do that if they think there’s a good chance the deal will actually be ratified.
Today’s failed TAA vote is a clear signal that congressional Democrats are staunchly opposed to the TPP, and that Congress as a whole is skeptical of Obama’s trade agenda. That means the negotiations are more likely to break down, as countries become less willing to make politically costly concessions for a deal that might never take effect anyway.
Also, President Obama is running out of time. Even under the “fast-track” process, it takes several months after a deal is ratified for Congress to approve it. With only 19 months left in Obama’s presidency, that doesn’t give the administration much margin for error. And if Congress doesn’t approve trade legislation this year, the political pressures of an election year will make it even more difficult to get Congress to act in 2016.
House Rejects Trade Bill, Rebuffing Obama’s Dramatic Appeal
By JONATHAN WEISMAN, The New York Times
JUNE 12, 2015
House Democrats rebuffed a dramatic personal appeal from President Obama on Friday, torpedoing his ambitious push to expand his trade negotiating power – and, quite likely, his chance to secure a legacy-defining trade accord spanning the Pacific Ocean.
In a remarkable rejection of a president they have resolutely backed, House Democrats voted to kill assistance to workers displaced by global trade, a program their party created and has stood by for four decades. By doing so, they brought down legislation granting the president trade promotion authority – the power to negotiate trade deals that cannot be amended or filibustered by Congress – before it could even come to a final vote.
Republican leaders now have two legislative days, beginning Monday night, to bring back the trade adjustment legislation for another vote.
But the sheer number of lawmakers who would have to change their votes make passage a second time doubtful, Republican leadership aides conceded.
The vote was an extraordinary blow to Mr. Obama, who went to the Capitol on Friday morning to plead personally with Democrats to “play it straight” – to oppose trade promotion if they must, but not to kill trade assistance, a move he cast as cynical. On Thursday night, he had made an unscheduled trip to the annual congressional baseball game to try to persuade Ms. Pelosi.
But a president who has long kept Congress at arm’s length may have paid a price. Representative Henry Cuellar, Democrat of Texas, said Mr. Obama mustered rousing applause Friday morning as he went through the battles he had fought with fellow Democrats – on labor organizing, health care access and environmental protection. But he could not change minds.
Defeat for Obama on trade as Democrats vote against him
by Ben Jacobs, The Guardian
Friday 12 June 2015 13.50 EDT
With the Democratic minority leader, Nancy Pelosi, speaking in opposition to the bill and going directly against Obama less than three hours after the president begged his party’s caucus to support it, the vote on trade adjustment assistance (TAA) – which would have provided government aid to workers who had lost their jobs because of free trade agreements – marks not just a major setback for future trade agreements but for Obama’s influence in his own caucus.
The failed vote came as part of an effort by liberals to torpedo attempts by the Obama administration to pass the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade deal.
That deal has a much greater chance if Congress grants the president fast-track trade authority – which would mean future trade deals, such as the TPP and the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the EU, could not be amended by Congress and would simply receive an up and down vote, making it easier for the president to push them through.
Both the House and the Senate have now approved fast-track in different forms, but there needs to be a conference to reconcile the two bills before the president is given the authority.
Which it does not survive. This is why Congress is seeking to avoid a conference at all costs.
The federation of labor associations, the AFL-CIO, was actively lobbying against assistance to displaced workers and joined by conservative groups like the Club for Growth in the effort, which opposes TAA as a “wasteful welfare program”.
And this strange alliance proved enough to lead to TAA failing to achieve enough support, losing by 302 to 126, as only a small minority of Democrats backed a program that their party unanimously supported in 2011. On the Republican side, 86 representatives voted for TAA. Only 40 Democrats did so.
Some Democrats justified their opposition to TAA by raging against the TPP, with Brad Sherman of California saying: “Every lobbyist here in Washington whose job it is to increase profits is for this.”
In contrast, others, like Gregory Meeks of New York, were less than pleased with the opposition of fellow party members to TAA. “It’s not for substance,” he told the Guardian. “You can’t argue substantively to be against TAA but for the politics.”
The deal has drawn an unprecedented lobbying effort from the Obama administration. The president made a surprise appearance at the Congressional Baseball Game on Thursday night to ask for support and spoke to a special meeting of the Democratic caucus on Friday morning to plead for support. Representative Judy Chu of California told the Guardian “I think each of one us has been called” either by member of cabinet or high-ranking White House official.
Meeks thought Obama’s speech to the caucus, where he did not take questions, helped. “I think he made a positive impact,” said Meeks. “I think it was a passionate plea, I don’t think anyone on either side can’t say that he was not sincere and gave a lot of individuals something to think about, especially those feeling pressure
on the politics.”
But not all members felt that way. Representative Peter DeFazio of Oregon told reporters “basically, the president tried to both guilt people and then impugn their integrity” while Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota tweeted bitterly on Friday morning: “Now President Obama wants to talk?”
But, all of Obama’s efforts proved for naught after Pelosi took the floor and spoke out against the deal. She said: “While I’m a big supporter of TAA, if TAA slows down the fast track I am prepared to vote against TAA.” This marked a rare break between the House Democratic leadership and the White House.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest brushed off the vote as “a procedural snafu” on Friday. He urged House Democrats to support TAA now that “they have registered their objections” to fast-track trade authority.
However, despite repeated questions from reporters, Earnest did not rule out Obama approving fast-track without TAA if that combination somehow made it through procedural hurdles in the Senate.
So the gloves come off. Obama is no Democrat and never was one.
But for Obama, this was an unmitigated defeat as one of the key priorities of his second term was overwhelmingly rejected by his own party.