06.23.2015 0

Pelosi got Obamatrade across the finish line

pelosi with elephants

By Robert Romano

Today, the U.S. Senate will vote to invoke cloture on granting trade promotion authority to President Barack Obama to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

This outcome was always inevitable because enough Democrats in both chambers have systematically ceded their objections to passage of the legislation.

Take House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Just days after leading House Democrats to defeat the legislation by dramatically taking down the trade adjustment assistance that overall passage of the deal depended on, the bill ultimately passed without trade adjustment assistance and with 28 yes votes from Democrats.

While it is debatable whether Pelosi could have stopped the bill in the House — the Obama administration was lobbying House Democrats hard to support it — on June 12 moments before the trade adjustment assistance vote, she said she was “voting today to slow down the Fast Track, to get a better deal for the American people.”

Yet, the deal now being presented to the U.S. Senate is exactly the same deal that was presented last week. It will simply be passed in a different order.

Now, the trade authority legislation before the Senate is a stand-alone measure. Trade adjustment assistance is being attached to the trade preferences legislation.

That’s all that changed.

If trade authority plus trade adjustment assistance was a bad deal for Democrats on June 12, why was it suddenly a good deal last week?

In the meantime, House Democrats — who opposed the entire package — remarkably are praising Pelosi for her failure to stop it.

Take Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), who voted against both the fast track bill and the trade adjustment assistance measure. She said, “I was not clear where she was going but I knew it would be OK, just from experience. And she did a masterful job.”

Masterful? At what? Giving a speech on the House floor when it was already clear trade adjustment assistance was temporarily going down in flames and she knew which way the wind was blowing — and then subsequently achieving zero concessions?

That simply makes Pelosi a skilled politician, who managed to get praised for opposing legislation that in the end she helped to pass. But hardly a masterful dealmaker.

Somehow, we suspect that if she were truly sincere in her opposition, Pelosi would have mustered the votes to stop Obamatrade to, if nothing else — in her words — “get a better deal for the American people.”

Instead, the legislation that is ultimately passing is virtually identical to the deal that was defeated on June 12. And with 50 Republican no votes, there was more than sufficient opposition to defeat the entire package when the final vote came on June 18.

But Pelosi didn’t want to defeat it. She let it pass.

Robert Romano is the senior editor of Americans for Limited Government.

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