“Republicans are expected to make up the bulk of the support, but some number of House Democrats will be required to get a majority vote.”
That is Susan Davis’ take writing for USA Today on the state of play for a Friday vote in the House of Representatives on granting trade authority to President Barack Obama to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
In short, Republicans desperate to put the trade bill on Obama’s desk do not have the votes.
Automatically, that means there are at least 28 out of 246 House Republicans opposed to the bill, necessitating Democrat support to get to 218. But other sources on Capitol Hill suggest as many as 54 Republicans may be opposed.
Meaning as many as 26 Democrats may be needed to pass the trade bill.
Yet, so far, only 19 have come out publicly in favor, according to an up-to-date whip list kept by The Hill.
Blowing up the deal may be the plan to pay for Trade Adjustment Assistance using $700 million from Medicare, something Democrats ardently oppose.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) asserted that as many as 200 Republicans would be needed to pass the Trade Adjustment measure if it includes the Medicare provision.
House Republicans, for their part, have offered to strip out the Medicare language later in a separate vote.
But that has not satisfied Democrats like Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.). “Why should I be recorded as voting to take $700 million out of Medicare in order to get something to put it back?” Clyburn told Politico.
The Democrat rebellion against Trade Adjustment Assistance may prove to be fast track’s undoing. Trade Adjustment Assistance is supposed to be a sweetener to attract enough Democrats to support granting trade authority to Obama.
Further complicating matters for House Speaker John Boehner and other Republican leaders, reports USA Today’s Davis, “House Democratic leaders have not been whipping support for the bill, leaving that effort to Obama and senior administration officials.”
Meaning, headed into Friday, this could be one of the most closely contested votes this session, with Democrats largely opposed and Republicans skeptical of granting more authority to President Obama.
And with more Republicans lining up against it than anyone expected, the fate of the legislation may rest with none other than Nancy Pelosi to deliver the votes, whom the White House is now placing immense pressure on.
But, just as Hillary Clinton did not answer Speaker Boehner’s call to take a stand in favor of fast track, it is questionable whether Pelosi will answer Obama’s. For, if she delivers the votes, everyone will know the fix was in.
“She has refused to state clearly her intentions — and her silence is tantamount to tacit support for this corporate agenda,” MoveOn.org campaign director Justin Krebs said last week. “Leader Pelosi: If you truly represent Democrats and are committed to fighting for regular Americans, show your leadership now.”
So, does Pelosi oppose the Pacific trade deal, or not? We’ll find out soon enough. If it passes, it appears it will be because she helped it across the finish line.
Robert Romano is the senior editor of Americans for Limited Government.