Obama applies pressure to Democrats ahead of new vote on stalled bill – The Australian Financial Review

In an unusual alliance, Mr Obama has teamed up with Republican rivals like Paul Ryan, a former US vice president candidate and chair of the House ways and means committee.

Unless Mr Obama is granted TPA, also known as fast track, trade experts say the TPP won’t be concluded by the negotiating countries.

TPA allows Mr Obama to finalise a trade pact with other countries, and prevents Congress changing the details of a deal, only giving lawmakers a yes or no vote on the TPP.

The House on Friday tried to pass two pieces of trade legislation, after the Senate approved the bill this month.

The package fell apart after Democratic House minority  leader Nancy Pelosi and her colleagues reneged on approving the proposal.

Democrats, largely for political tactical reasons, rejected a trade adjustment package of about $US1 billion intended to compensate workers disrupted by trade. The final vote tally was 126-302.

“Its defeat, sad to say, is the only way that we would be able to slow down the fast track,” Ms Pelosi said.

The rebuff shocked the White House, because the measure was proposed by Democrats to offset the ostensible negative impacts on local jobs in return for granting Mr Obama TPA.

While the TPA part of the bill subsequently won a narrow majority of support in the House by a margin of 219-211, including 28 Democrats, the vote was in effect irrelevant.

TPA and trade adjustment authority for worker-aid both need to both be passed together, to match identical legislation approved by the Senate.

Mr Obama on the weekend urged lawmakers to reverse their opposition.

“These kinds of agreements make sure that the global economy’s rules aren’t written by countries like China; they’re written by the United States of America,” Mr Obama said.

If the US fails to secure the TPP with the 11 other countries, it would be a major blow to President Obama’s “rebalance” to Asia and help tip the balance in favour of emerging rival China for influence in the region. The 12 TPP countries are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam.

Virtually every US president since Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1940s had been granted the power to set trade deals, including most recently George W Bush and Bill Clinton.

 

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