Friday, June 12, 2015

Trade vote goes down to the wire *updates*

The vote -- or series of votes -- is happening this morning -- or this afternoon, if the whip count is unfavorable to the president and the Republicans.

After a narrow and suspenseful 217-212 approval Thursday on a procedural vote, the House is scheduled today to have a series of debates and votes that could lead to passage of “fast track” trade promotion authority (TPA) for the still-secret Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and future trade agreements.

A trade bill involving sub-Saharan Africa already easily passed on Thursday. Votes on two more bills today will lead up to the big vote on fast track, which essentially preapproves the TPP.

What's at stake:

The House on Friday will take up two critical bills already passed by the Senate. The first would offer so-called trade adjustment assistance — including job training, relocation allowances and assistance with health care costs — to workers who lose their jobs because of free trade deals. The second would grant this president and the next “trade promotion authority” — the power to negotiate international trade accords that could not be amended or filibustered by Congress.

Who's for it and who's agin' it:

Hours before one of the most consequential votes of President Barack Obama’s second term — whether to give him fast-track trade powers to clinch a sprawling Pacific Rim trade deal — Democrats and Republicans have no idea whether the votes are there to pass it.

What they do know is that pockets of opposition from every corner of the House of Representatives has thrown the package into serious jeopardy.

Everybody seems to be scrambling.

Because of possible Democratic defections, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) said the GOP whip team may have to approach some anti-TAA Republicans and ask them to vote in favor.

“I think Democrats are playing games with it right now. We’re in a situation where people are willing to cut off their nose to spite their face,” Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) , a deputy whip, told The Hill. “Liberal, pro-trade union Democrats are breaking ranks and destroying a program that they fought to create because they’re so much against TPA [trade promotion authority].”

You will recall Democrats first defeated, and the next day approved, the threshold vote last month.

Obama's on the Hill right this minute, twisting arms or kissing ass, as the case may be.  I'm going to follow the Twitter feed and C-Span to watch what happens.  Updates here as they roll in.

Update (12:15 pm CST): Speaker Pelosi announced she would oppose TAA and TPA and all of the other trade bills up for a vote today.  The vote will happen shortly; her opposition may be the death knell for them.

Update (12:49 pm CST): There are 302 'nay' votes on TAA.  Democrats voting 'aye' total just 39. One hundred and fifty-six Republicans also voted no.  The initial trade legislation goes down in flames -- a loss for Obama, Boehner, Paul Ryan, and a slew of other free-traders.

Update (1:00 pm CST): The ceremonial TPA vote, occurring immediately after, only allows the previous measure to be reconsidered later and narrowly passes, 219-212.

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