Last week, the House rejected the President’s desired “fast track” authority for trade bills that would have smoothed the way to signing onto trade agreements like the TPP, TTIP and TISA. Technically, “fast track” was voted for, but a related issue around Trade Adjustment Authority (TAA) was rejected (overwhelmingly: 302 to 126). Because the Senate had linked those two, the House needed to as well. Following this, House leadership invoked a procedural move that basically set up a revote for today. Given the massive margin by which TAA failed, I wondered aloud how they would flip so many votes. However, in the back of my head, I worried that the approval of the actual fast track bill meant that the TAA rejection was something of a theatrical production, allowing people to “vote against” it and then let it pass a week later. Turns out my original thought was the correct one.
There is no deal in place, and the House knows it, so it’s not even going to try the vote. There was a procedural move to basically delay things through the end of July, so that it could come back, but it does seem clear that the President had no plan B, and really thought that House Democrats — who have been squawking for months over this — would eventually come around to back his position.
Meanwhile, on the Republican side, while they’re publicly blaming the Democrats for this, they’re punishing dissenters in the ranks who threatened some of the procedural shenanigans. And, at the same time, it appears that they’re trying to craft a new plan that would separate fast track from the TAA and still move forward with fast track by itself, but that creates a whole host of other problems — the biggest one being that those who voted against TAA in order to block fast track obviously know what’s going on — and this new move would likely be met with enough resistance to stop it as well.
Everyone agrees that fast track authority for the TPP (and those other trade agreements) is not necessarily dead, but it is on significant life support.