The House delivered a big blow to President Obama's quest for a Pacific Rim trade deal. Fred Katayama reports.
A huge blow to President Obama. The House derailed the fast track trade bill that's key to getting his Pacific Rim trade deal passed. That trade authority granted to past presidents would have given him authority to expedite a sweeping trade agreement with 12 Pac Rim nations. White House spokesman Josh Earnest: SOUNDBITE: JOSH EARNEST, SPOKESMAN, WHITE HOUSE (ENGLISH) SAYING: "We're going to continue to make an aggressive case to all the House Democrats and leader (Nancy) Pelosi about why it's important for them to support trade adjustment assistance." Although the House narrowly passed the fast-track trade authority bill, it was merely symbolic. The legislation won't progress because the House had earlier voted to soundly reject a key bill tied to it: a measure to aid workers hurt by trade. Trade assistance legislation has been long backed by Democrats, but many Democrats actually voted to kill it, hoping to kill the larger trade liberalization deal. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi early said she would vote against that worker assistance measure, saying people would rather have a job. A Republican aide said House Republicans hope to hold another vote on Tuesday to pass the worker assistance measure. Daniel Ikenson, who directs trade policy studies at the libertarian think tank, Cato Institute, says the legislation is not totally dead but gave low odds to its passage. SOUNDBITE: DANIEL IKENSON, DIRECTOR OF TRADE POLICY STUDIES, CATO INSTITUTE (ENGLISH) SAYING: "It's unlikely that the Senate would come around to scrapping the trade adjustment assistance from its version of the bill. But that's the only path forward if they want to salvage trade promotion authority and conclude the Trans Pacific Partnership (....) What the Congress seems to be doing here is saying the United States is not interested in new trade agreements with the rest of the world and let China lead the way in Asia with respect to new trade agreements." Obama made a last-minute last-ditch effort to lobby lawmakers, even personally visiting Capitol Hill. But in the end, many of his own party members dealt the blow to legislation that would've helped secure his legacy on trade.