Via The Hill:
Defying President Obama, House Democrats on Friday rallied to vote down legislation granting aid to workers displaced by trade, dealing a potentially fatal blow to the fast-track legislation that had been scheduled to hit the floor.
An overwhelming majority of Democrats voted to sink the package in the 126-302 vote despite an impassioned plea from the president, which he delivered in person during a rare morning visit to Capitol Hill. A majority of Republicans also opposed the bill.
The vote came minutes after a dramatic floor speech by House Minority Leader [mc_name name=’Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’P000197′ ] (D-Calif.), who rebuffed lobbying by Obama to vote against the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program.
Pelosi noted that Democrats have traditionally backed TAA, but sided with liberals in her conference who argued a vote against the program was the only way to stop fast-track.
“If TAA slows down the fast track, I’m prepared to vote against TAA,” Pelosi said.
The vote against TAA is a humiliating defeat for Obama, who had spent weeks lobbying House Democrats to support his trade agenda in the face of overwhelming opposition from liberal groups and organized labor.
Under the procedure established for considering the trade package, the defeat of TAA means that the House won’t be able to consider the fast-track legislation that Obama and GOP leaders are trying to muscle through the chamber on Friday.
The TAA bill (not to be confused with the T&A bill sponsored by Bill Clinton) provided financial assistance to American workers and businesses that were damaged by the TPP trade agreement. Despite the TPA passing by 219-211, unless a TAA bill is approved, the TPA — trade promotion authority aka ‘fast track’ authority — can’t be considered.
House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who led the GOP effort to whip votes for the trade bills, warned that defeating the trade package would make the U.S. look unreliable on the international stage.
“The world is watching this,” Ryan said during floor debate. “If we establish TPA, we are saying on a bipartisan basis, we want America to lead.”
What Ryan failed to consider was that not only does the world consider Obama unreliable but a lot of Americans pretty much agree with that idea,too.
While many had predicted a cliff hanger vote, in the end it was simply a rout, Democrats and Republicans, Liberals and Conservatives, though for different reasons, all coalesced around the idea that this was simply a bad idea. This was a stinging defeat for both Barack Obama and for John Boehner.