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Dan Gilmore / June 12, 2015

House Democrats Doom Obama’s Trade Deal

Nancy Pelosi — the minority leader in the lower chamber — has just stood up and told Barack Obama and the Senate “no.” In a vote that served a smackdown on Obama’s trade deal with Pacific countries, House Democrats voted against a provision that was supposed to sweeten the legislation allowing Obama the authority to fast track the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The Senate had sent two measures to the House: Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) was the legislation that gave the chief executive authority to negotiate this trade deal, and Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), a Democrat priority, was legislation that — as the leftists viewed it — protected American workers (read: unions) when the economy experienced freer global trade.

On Friday, the House overwhelmingly rejected TAA in a 302-126 vote and narrowly passed TPA 219-211. But both chambers need to agree on the legislation before it heads to Obama’s desk. So TPA will head back to the Senate where it may or may not pass; the bill’s on life support.

Pelosi was acting at the behest of unions. But as she told a press conference Thursday, it also boiled down to a power grab for herself. “What I’m concerned about in all of this is that we watched as the Senate had the debate on Trade Promotion Authority — they had the ability to have amendments, discussion, debate,” Pelosi said. “And then the bill came to the House where we had no opportunity, no opportunity to have any debate or make any amendments. It was fast-tracking the fast-track. And it gave new meaning to the term ‘lower house.’”

This comes as Obama lobbied hard for the measure to pass. He showed up at the congressional baseball game to personally lobby lawmakers. He even made his way to Capitol Hill to talk to Democrats — the first time in two years. It was personal, it was desperate and, ouch, Pelosi and Co. betrayed him. “Basically, the president tried to both guilt people and then impugned their integrity, and I don’t think it was a very effective tactic,” said Democrat Rep. Peter Defazio (D-OR).

Both parties are split in Congress over the issue. Centrists are more likely to support Obama’s trade deal, while the wings are more likely to oppose TPP for ideological reasons. While Pelosi had her own reasons for hamstringing TPP, those who love Liberty should appreciate that we have more time to debate a trade deal.

This post has been updated.

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