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How Reichert accidentally derailed Obama’s trade agenda

Saturday, June 13, 2015




obama-sad► From AP — House rejects Obama’s appeals and imperils his trade bill — The House delivered a stinging blow to President Obama on Friday and left his ambitious global trade agenda in serious doubt. Republican leaders, who generally support Obama’s trade objectives, signaled they might try to revive the package as early as next week. But that could require the shifting of at least 90 votes within either or both parties, a heavy lift.

► In today’s NY Times — House rejects trade measure, rebuffing Obama’s dramatic appeal — House Democrats voted to end Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) to workers displaced by global trade, a program their party created and has supported for four decades. That move effectively scuttled legislation granting the president “Fast Track” Trade Promotion Authority — the power to negotiate trade deals that cannot be amended or filibustered by Congress… After a rare and resounding victory, the left wing of his party showed no sign of relenting. A large coalition of labor, environmental groups, liberal activists and faith groups promised to keep the pressure on Democrats to stay the course, relishing their win, demanding that lawmakers spurn the president or risk a primary challenge.

reichert-medicare-cuts► From The Hill — Behind Pelosi’s break with Obama on trade (or How Rep. Dave Reichert accidentally derailed Obama’s trade agenda) — Pelosi and Boehner struck a deal to scrap Medicare cuts that the Senate had used to pay for TAA (an idea first proposed and sponsored by Rep. Dave Reichert in the House) — cuts House Democrats said they couldn’t live with. But critics complained that the way the trade bills were structured meant Democrats would still have to vote for a TAA bill with Medicare cuts, even though they were eliminated in a separate bill. Voting for Medicare cuts, opponents argued, was tantamount to political suicide.

Fast-Track-Reichert_signs“When the pay-for was characterized by opponents as a Medicare cut, that became politically unpalatable” to many Democrats, Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), who backed the trade bills, told The Hill. “Even though it was fixed, folks continued to use it as an excuse to oppose TAA.” Larsen and other pro-trade members suddenly found themselves pulling double duty, trying to convince Democrats to support fast-track while keeping them from shooting down an aid program they actually liked because it cut Medicare.



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