Well, it sure looks like nothing’s going to move on this, but it ain’t dead yet.
WASHINGTON — House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has no plans to negotiate with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) after her caucus torpedoed a trade deal backed by President Barack Obama and Boehner, a GOP leadership aide told The Huffington Post on Monday.
Without talks between Boehner and Pelosi, it’s difficult to see how Obama’s trade agenda can be revived.
The Senate has already passed a trade measure that includes a provision to put future trade deals on a fast track — known as trade promotion authority, or TPA — through Congress, and also has set aside funds — trade adjustment assistance, or TAA — for workers dislocated by those same deals.
The House needed to pass both provisions for the overall measure to make it to the president’s desk. Republicans were unwilling to vote to support the money for workers, but Democrats realized if they, too, rejected the support for workers, the entire package would go down.
On Thursday night, Pelosi and Boehner, who’d been hammering out details of the two packages for days, met on the House floor to swap notes. Pelosi asked Boehner how many votes he could deliver for the funding for dislocated workers. He guessed roughly 100.
“How about 150?” she said, according to sources in both parties.
Just before Friday’s vote, Pelosi went to the House floor and stunned her colleagues by saying she would be voting no — and then her caucus largely voted with her to sink the bill. While her decision swayed some members, it was clear that most had already made up their minds to oppose the measure. Pelosi said afterward that passage of a “robust” highway bill may ease the path to finding the votes needed, but she and Boehner have not been engaged in negotiations, and won’t anytime soon.
“After negotiating in bad faith for 3 days and successfully getting the process she demanded for consideration of TAA and TPA, Leader Pelosi turned around and screwed the President and the Speaker. No one will be negotiating with Leader Pelosi on a path forward,” a House Republican leadership aide said in a statement to HuffPost.
For now, House Republican leaders simply don’t have the votes to pass the trade package and need more time to find them. They plan to take a procedural vote on Tuesday to give themselves until July 30 to come up with a way forward.
“We remain committed to getting TPA done, and this will give the president more time to communicate the consequences of not moving forward with his party,” said Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith.
As frustrated as they may be, proponents of the trade deal conceded they may need Pelosi to get it over the finish line.
“You’ll have to ask her,” grumbled Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.), when asked Friday why he thinks his party leader voted against moving the trade package, before adding: “Obviously it’s going to be hard to get a TAA bill done without her support.”