House Democrats handed President Barack Obama a stunning loss on his trade agenda by failing to advance trade promotion authority. The House of Representatives passed TPA by a vote of 219-211, but failed to reauthorize Trade Adjustment Assistance by a vote of 126-302. Under the House rule, both TPA and TAA needed to pass to advance the overall trade bill.
The House Republican leadership is looking at various options including voting on TAA again this week to save TPA. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) argued that voting against TAA was the “only way to slow down” TPA and led a large majority of the House Democrats to vote against TAA. President Obama said “I thank the bipartisan group of Representatives who came together on behalf of America’s workers, our businesses and our economy. And I urge the House of Representatives to pass TAA as soon as possible, so I can sign them both, and give our workers and businesses even more wind at their backs to do what they do best: imagine, invent, build and sell goods Made in America to the rest of the world.” Unless Congress passes TPA, the United States will be at a distinct disadvantage in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations.
U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman last week said, “None of the countries are willing to come to the table, have another meeting and put their final offers on the table, until they see us having TPA.” A number of agriculture and business groups are continuing to push the House to pass TAA and TPA. The National Pork Producers Council said, “NPPC is pleased that the House passed TPA, but the lower chamber now needs to approve TAA before the trade package can be sent to the president for his signature. We expect the House to take up and approve TAA soon.” The American Feed Industry Association said, “The American Feed Industry Association is encouraged the House approved Trade Promotion Authority today. We strongly urge the House to reconsider the Trade Adjustment Assistance as soon as possible so that the trade package, including TPA, can be sent to the president to sign the legislation. TPA allows Congress to review and approve or disapprove trade agreements, but only with an up-or-down vote.”