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Trade Supporters Opt for More Breathing Room

House leadership will delay reconsideration of Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA)—up to a July 30 deadline they set—to give more time for President Obama to gain Democratic support for the measure, which is necessary to move “fast track” legislation. Last Friday, the House handily defeated TAA by a vote of 126-302, with 156 Republicans and 144 Democrats voting against it. It’s ironic that the Democrats used TAA, which was their long-supported package for worker assistance, to bring down Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). Many of the Republicans who voted against TAA thought it was a wasteful and unproven program. 

Meanwhile on Tuesday, White House officials were planning to meet with those Democrats who voted for the trade bills to plan how to gain more Democratic support on the trade agenda. While President Obama had visited Capitol Hill on Friday in an unsuccessful attempt to get Democrats to sign on to TAA, it was interpreted as “too little, too late” to overturn the Democrats’ scheme to scuttle TPA.

House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) on Tuesday said that a revote on TAA would likely include other issues to get the necessary votes from some Democrats who voted down the bill on June 12.

It’s possible that the House Republican leadership may attempt other approaches rather than simply a revote on TAA. The July 30 date right before the recess gives time for some negotiating with the Senate, which passed TPA and TAA as a package.