House Republican leaders and the White House are trying to figure out how to rebound from a stunning Friday defeat on the House floor that has left President Obama’s trade agenda in limbo.
The dramatic loss capped a week of furious lobbying by President Obama and GOP leaders, who for once had found themselves on the same side when it came to fast-track trade authority.
They appeared to be on the verge of a major victory on fast-track — and indeed, the controversial measure allowing Obama to send trade deals to Congress for up-or-down votes was approved Friday in a separate 219-211 vote.
But because the House failed to approve a separate measure for workers displaced by trade deals known as Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), the entire package sunk.
The TAA bill failed in an overwhelming 126-302 vote after House Democrats decided opposing the workers assistance legislation was their best strategy for defeating fast-track, which is mostly opposed by the Democratic conference.
For some trade supporters, it felt as if defeat had been snatched from the jaws of victory, and Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (Wis.) and other GOP leaders appeared visibly frustrated by the stunning events.