Democrats rallied to block President Barack Obama’s trade agenda on Friday by taking away power to fast-track the Trans-Pacific Partnership, reported The Huffington Post.
Democrats had to kill the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), a measure that would have paid to retrain workers who lost their jobs to outsourcing. By killing the TAA, Democrats took fast-track authority down with it. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) led the Democrats’ charge against the TPP fast-track agenda.
“If TAA slows down the fast-track, I am prepared to vote against TAA,” said Pelosi. “I’m sad to say it’s the only way that we will be able to slow down the fast-track. If TAA fails, the fast-track bill is stopped.”
Weeks ago, the president personally made calls, had meetings, and argued on behalf of his trade agenda. Conservative Republicans and Democrats were able to outnumber those on Capitol Hill who supported the trade agenda. Pelosi is credited in swaying the House to vote against Obama’s trade agenda.
“I believe that when leader Pelosi announced that she was voting against trade adjustment assistance, that did sway votes,” said Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY). “When the president came in to talk to caucus this morning for undecided members, I think he made a persuasive case. When leader Pelosi announced that she was voting against TAA for undecided members, it sealed the deal.”
The TAA was shoehorned into the fast-track bill to garner support from the Democrats. It called for $700 million to train newly-laid-off workers, but there was a catch. The money would have been taken from the country’s Medicare budget. House Republicans wanted a different way to fund training, and Democrats believed $700 million wasn’t enough and needlessly took money from Medicare anyway.
“Unfortunately, the TAA proposal is really short for ‘taking away assistance,’” said Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX). “It includes substantially less funding than the administration has said was essential to protect those who lose their jobs through expanded trade.”
Other Democrats saw the TAA for what it was, a cheap tactic to win support.
“TAA should not be a bargaining chip to get a deeply-flawed TPA across the finish line,” said Rep. Sander Levin (D-Mich.).
The Obama administration has been scrambling to fast-track the TPP, a dangerous trade deal that would hurt American workers and give unprecedented powers to multi-national corporations. Thankfully, Democrats grew a spine and fought back.