President Barack Obama doesn’t need a "Plan B" to get stalled trade legislation through the House of Representatives, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez said Sunday.
Speaking on Sunday news shows, Perez and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., expressed optimism that the legislation, which was rejected largely by Democrats Friday in a resounding defeat for Obama, will be approved by the House.
The House is expected to vote again on Tuesday on the measure that placed the trade package in jeopardy.
"Oh, I don't think we need a Plan B here, because there are so many different pathways that can get you to the finish line in the House," Perez said on ABC’s "This Week." "I'm confident that we'll move forward in this, because…America needs to set the rules in the global economy that's why the president has been fighting for this."
Ryan, speaking on "Fox News Sunday," echoed Perez’s optimism.
"I think this can be salvaged, because people are going to realize just how big the consequences are for American leadership, for whether or not America is going to lead in the global economy and write rules, whether we're going to expand markets for more jobs or retreat," Ryan told Fox’s Chris Wallace.
Meanwhile, Friday’s action in the House has turned the trade issue into the latest talking point in the 2016 presidential campaign. Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont who’s seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, urged Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton to oppose the trade legislation.
"I would hope very much that Secretary Clinton will side with every union in this country, virtually every environmental group, many religious groups, and say that this TPP policy is a disaster, that it must be defeated, and that we need to regroup and come up with a trade policy which demands that corporate America start investing in this country, rather than in countries all over the world," Sanders said on CBS’ "Face The Nation."
Clinton campaign officials declined to state whether the she has a stance on the House trade package.
"As one of her senior advisers, I think it's my job to let her be the person making the news in her campaign or let her be the person saying where she is on an issue..," Karen Finney, a senior Clinton spokeswoman said on "Fox News Sunday." "I'm going to let my candidate speak to that."
That was all Ryan needed to hear to blast Clinton on trade.
"Surely, a person who was secretary of state understands something about American leadership," he said. "And to refuse to even take a position is just sort of mystifying to me."
Despite Republican support and an intense personal lobbying effort by Obama, the House rejected a worker assistance package on a 126-302 vote Friday.
The measure was part a trade package that would give Obama so-called fast-track trade authority – the ability to negotiate international trade deals that Congress could only approve or disapprove. Lawmakers wouldn’t have the power to amend or filibuster a deal.
Moments after Obama huddled with House Democrats Friday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., spoke out against the trade legislation on the chamber floor. In the end, only 40 Democrats voted for the trade assistance bill while 144 opposed it.
The vote rendered a later vote on whether to give Obama fast track trade authority symbolic. That measure passed on a 219-211 vote, which the White House immediately embraced as a silver lining.
“On Friday, Republicans and Democrats in the House of Representatives voted to help the United States negotiate new trade deals that are both free and fair – deals that expand opportunity for our workers and our businesses alike. And that’s good,” Obama said in his weekly radio address that aired Saturday. “But that’s not all we should be doing for our workers. Right now, something called Trade Adjustment Assistance provides vital support, like job-training and community college education, to tens of thousands of American workers each year who were hurt by past trade deals – the kind we’re not going to repeat again. Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have voted to renew this initiative, but so far, the House of Representatives has chosen to let it expire in just a few months...I urge those Members of Congress who voted against Trade Adjustment Assistance to reconsider, and stand up for American workers.
Republicans placed the blame for the trade package’s precarious situation squarely on Democrats and said it’s up Obama to get more Democratic votes by Tuesday.
"It's ironic. They are the ones who are making him a very lame duck president, his own party," Ryan said. "So, he has work to do with his party. And I hope that he can get that work done and we can fix this."