With President Barack Obama apparently unable to sway enough Democrats to support his stalled trade agenda, House Speaker John Boehner Monday moved to push a crucial vote on the matter into next month, hoping to buy time to find more "yes" votes.
After a day of meetings on Capitol Hill and telephone calls between White House officials and key congressional lawmakers, Boehner, R-Ohio, late Monday employed a procedural move through the House Rules Committee to give the chamber’s leaders until the end of July to try again to pass a bill that would assist U.S. workers displaced by international trade agreements.
The House could vote on Boehner’s extension plan as early as Tuesday.
The worker’s assistance provision was part of a package to give Obama so-called fast-track trade authority – the ability to negotiate international trade deals that Congress could only approve or disapprove but couldn’t amend or filibuster.
But the package unraveled when the worker’s assistance provision failed Friday. Only 40 Democrats voted for the measure while 144 voted against it.
The vote was an embarrassing blow for Obama, who went to Capitol Hill and personally lobbied House Democrats for the bill hours before its defeat. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., spoke out against the measure on the chamber floor.
So now Obama and House Republican leadership are united – albeit uncomfortably – in trying to push fast-track trade promotion authority through Congress.
"We remain committed to getting TPA done, and this will give the president more time to communicate the consequences of not moving forward with his party," Kevin Smith, Boehner’s spokesman, said of Monday’s maneuver.