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How the House Revived Obama’s Trade Deal

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Unread 06.18.15, 10:45 PM
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How the House Revived Obama’s Trade Deal

On 06.18.15 02:04 PM posted by Josh Siegel

The House took the first step today to save President Obama’s trade agenda when it granted him negotiating power over a legacy-building deal with 11 Pacific Rim nations.

In the first part of an elaborate strategy by Republican leadership, the House voted 218-208 for Trade Promotion Authority, legislation that would make it easier for Obama to ink the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

>>> See How Your Member of Congress Voted

This is the second time the House voted to pass Trade Promotion Authority—anchored overwhelmingly by Republican support.

After the first vote last week, the legislation didn’t make it to the president’s desk because House Democrats—in protest of the wider trade agenda—voted down a related measure providing money and training to workers displaced by trade.

Only one lawmaker, Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., changed his position from last week, switching from no to yes.

After the trade deal appeared near death, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.,—working with Obama—devised a complex plan to rescue it.

The plan required the House to first vote on a standalone Trade Promotion Authority bill—without being linked to the controversial Trade Adjustment Assistance program, which conservatives oppose.

>>> Commentary: Trade Adjustment Assistance Does More Harm Than Good

The Senate, which already passed legislation that combined Trade Promotion Authority and Trade Adjustment Assistance, will then vote early next week on the standalone fast-track bill.

As the final piece of the puzzle, Boehner and McConnell have vowed to also separately pass the worker assistance program to appease Democrats skeptical of the impact trade has on American workers.

But this time, McConnell will attach Trade Adjustment Assistance to another non-controversial bill that strengthens trade ties with Africa and Haiti, before sending that back to the Senate for final passage.

Some conservatives are criticizing the new plan. Those opponents, who contend they’ve been stonewalled from the negotiating process, are angry at Republican leadership for working closely with Democrats as both sides looked to extract concessions.

“This [plan] reveals the intellectual bankruptcy of Republican leadership,” said Mike Needham, chief executive of Heritage Action, in a statement. “Instead of using last week’s embarrassment to reevaluate the policy, they opted for a new procedural gimmick to get the same nonsense passed. Republicans weren’t given majorities so they could cede control to Democrats.”

But others had no problem with the process, and were happy to take part in the give-and-take required to help support free trade.

In an interview with The Daily Signal, Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., argued that Trade Promotion Authority will help Congress check Obama if he were to negotiate a deal they don’t like.

He says supporters of the plan are in a “better position” today than last week, and that Republicans have achieved a “very good conservative piece of legislation.”

“I was very pleased with the process,” said Kelly, who credited House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., for his leadership on the trade deal. “They did a terrific job of making sure every person in the conference had their day in court. And for conservatives, I think this was the easiest thing to support. The U.S. never shies away from competition. Imagine being the strongest country in the world, and not setting the parameters for free trade?”

The post How the House Revived Obama’s Trade Deal appeared first on The Daily Signal.

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