Senate Democrats dealt a massive blow to President Barack Obama’s hopes of fast-tracking the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal through Congress, reported The New York Times.
TPP failed to get fast-track authorization after Senate Democrats rallied to a 52-45 vote victory. The loss has proven frustrating and embarrassing for President Obama, senior White House officials, and Republicans, who have formed an unorthodox, friendly relationship with the president over TPP.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) have both led Senate Democrats in the charge against fast-tracking the TPP. The common belief among the dissenting Democrats and left-leaning labor groups is that the trade deal will hurt American workers, favor corporations, and ship jobs overseas.
The NYT noted that this vote is “not necessarily the final word,” but the victory sends a strong message to the legislative and executive branches.
For the past several weeks, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden have attempted to woo Democratic support for fast-tracking TPP. Democrats resisted the pitch, obviously, and circled the wagons for TPP.
Some Republicans are now questioning Obama’s ability to appeal to his own party.
“Does the president of the United States have enough clout with members of his own political party?” pondered Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX). Other Republicans defended, and even victimized, the president after the votes were tallied.
“Essentially what the Democrats are doing today by trying to block us from even getting on this legislation is throwing their own president under the bus,” said Sen. Republican Conference Chairman John Thune (R-SD).
Obama contends that members of his own party are spreading lies and misinformation about TPP. Despite that claim, the president has done very little to keep the public informed about the specifics of the trade deal, inciting criticisms from perhaps the TPP’s harshest critic, Sen. Warren.
Warren recently called out the president for keeping the trade deal behind closed deals while saying it’s nothing bad. If it’s not so bad, then tell Americans about it, she essentially said. Obama has remained tight-lipped about TPP’s finer points.
Obama is pushing for a straight up-or-down vote on fast-tracking TPP. However, Senate Democrats were able to rally and stand up to the president and Republicans about a terrible trade deal.