• Fast-Track Back on Track
  • June 24, 2015
  • Law Firm: McDonald Hopkins LLC - Cleveland Office
  • Last week, opponents of President Obama's trade agenda thought they had scored a decisive victory when they brought down the legislative package in the House. This week, however, trade proponents gave the trade effort new life.

    On Thursday, by a 218-208 vote, the House approved Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), better known as fast-track, on its own, decoupled from Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), an aid measure that Democrats struck down last week to block TPA. The bill was backed by 28 Democrats on Thursday, while 50 Republicans voted against it. The Senate is expected to take it up next week with the goal—supporters hope—of delivering the whole package to Obama's desk before the July 4 recess.

    Still, it might only take a handful of less-convinced pro-trade Democrats to derail TPA before it gets there. They have received assurances from House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that TAA will get a quick vote. But there has been no indication from the 14 Senate Democrats who backed the TPA/TAA package that they're on board with the plan.

    Whatever happens in the Senate, some trade supporters believe this is Obama's last chance to pass TPA.

    Meanwhile, pressure has yet to relent off the Hill. Outside groups on both sides have blasted members who support TPA. "Republicans weren't given majorities so they could cede control to Democrats," said Michael Needham, the CEO of the conservative group Heritage Action. "They need to listen to the people, stop passing the same policies that are failing our country, and embrace an agenda built on the principle of opportunity for all and favoritism to none."

    Progressives are equally combative. "Any Democrat in Congress who trusts John Boehner or Mitch McConnell to pass Trade Adjustment Assistance, that will actually help working families, deserves to lose their job," Democracy for America Chair Jim Dean said.

    But the conservative economic group Club for Growth backs TPA and announced it would score Thursday's tally as a "key vote."

    Regardless of the result, some House Democrats were unhappy with the process and the way it has divided the party.