On Friday, June 12, 2015, the House passed the Trade Promotion Authority. This meant that 191 Republicans and 28 Democrats in the House of Representatives voted to surrender their constitutional authority on trade and allow President Obama to conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) and other agreements that have been negotiated behind closed doors. The good news is that the House failed to renew the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) portion of H.R. 1314 by a 302-126 vote. Since the Senate-passed version of H.R. 1314, contained both the TPA and TAA measures, the House needed to pass both portions of H. R. 1314 for the bill to go to the president's desk for signature.
Many did not expect the Trade Promotion Authority bill to be voted on if the TAA bill failed, but as soon as it failed, a motion was made to vote on the TPA bill. Then, as soon as the TPA passed, I watched Republican House Speaker John Boehner, Ohio, make a motion to reconsider the TAA after the House reconvenes on June 15. The re-vote was expected to take place Tuesday, June 16, but at a Rules Committee meeting late Monday, June 15, the House Republican leadership decided to delay the re-vote until July 30 in an attempt to give President Obama and the Republican leadership more time to figure out how to pass the stalled trade package.
If the House and Senate pass bills with different language, then they have to form a House/Senate Conference Committee. That committee negotiates and works out the differences in the two bills, sends the bills to the House and Senate, and if both chambers approve, it then goes to the President for signing.
There was also a third trade-related bill, H.R. 644, the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015. This bill was the first of the three bills that the House voted on, and it passed by a 240-190 vote. This bill had to pass because it had all the Paul Ryan goodies promised to Republicans who were wavering in exchange for their TPA support (although the currency manipulation language that was in the Senate-passed bill was stripped out.)
It is likely that deal cutting will be conducted behind the scenes to get Democrats to vote in favor of the TAA. Even though Democrats have consistently supported Trade Adjustment Assistance legislation, Democrat leadership and labor unions were unhappy because the TAA program was to be funded by large Medicare cuts, and it would not provide enough funding to offset the harm of TPA. Other Democrats voted "no" to delay or stop the Trade Promotion Authority bill.
The Republican leadership hates TAA, but was willing to help pass it to get Democratic votes. Important conservative organizations like Heritage Action and Club for Growth opposed TAA but supported TPA. A last minute Boehner/Pelosi deal on TAA prevented the defunding of Medicare to fund TAA, and instead would fund it by direct tax hikes by raising the penalties for misfiled taxes. “A vote for Obamatrade on Tuesday is a vote to give the IRS more power and more incentives to go after small businesses,” said Curtis Ellis, founder of the Obamatrade.com website, brought to you by the American Jobs Alliance, in an exclusive interview with Breitbart News. It seems unlikely that more Republicans will vote for the TAA after the revelation that voting for TAA is technically voting for a tax increase.
What angers me is that the existence of the Trade Adjustment Assistance bill is a tacit admission by both parties that trade bills cause people to lose their jobs so that they need assistance to be retrained for other jobs. What does a person with a good paying manufacturing job get trained to do? Work at Walmart or flip burgers for McDonalds? That is what too many American workers have been forced to do when the company they worked closed their doors due to unfair competition from foreign companies as a result of previous trade agreements concluded in the past 20 years.
What angers me is that the existence of the Trade Adjustment Assistance bill is a tacit admission by both parties that trade bills cause people to lose their jobs so that they need assistance to be retrained for other jobs.
There are rumors that if the TAA bill fails again, the Republicans have a "Plan B" and will draft another rule that would bring TPA to the floor on its own without being tied to the TAA legislation. If this is necessary, the Republican House leadership would risk losing the support of some Democrats and some of the Tea Party-supported tepresentatives that voted "yes." If a stand-alone Trade Promotion Authority bill does pass, the Senate would have to reconsider and vote on the TPA bill without the TAA portion being included.
If the Trade Promotion Authority is granted to President Obama, future historians may mark this event as the day when our Constitutional representative democracy ended and our country unofficially transformed into an oligarchy, which is defined as "a small group of people having control of a country, organization, or institution."
In 1995, Republicans concluded a "Contract with America," while in 2015, Republicans appear to have concluded a contract with the oligarchy composed of the international corporate elite of large, multinational corporations that betray America's small businesses, farmers, ranchers and workers. These large, multinational corporations now comprise the majority of the membership of the National Association of Manufacturers and the U. S. Chamber of Commerce. Many are no longer American-owned corporations, having been acquired by corporations from foreign countries.
Promoting Executive Power
For seven years, Republicans have accused President Obama of overstepping the power of the executive branch of our government, but now they just voted to give him even more power in the name of "free trade." This is why I heard conservative radio talk show host Mark Levin express his outrage against Republican leadership in the House on his show Thursday evening, June 11, when he said that these "trade agreements aren't free trade, they are crony capitalism."
Tea Party members and supporters can feel good that 54 Republicans voted "no" on granting Trade Promotion Authority, nearly all of whom were Tea Party supported candidates in either the 2010 or 2012 election. These representatives realized that the TPP would be a threat to our national sovereignty and leads us one step closer to global governance. Only seven Tea Party-supported representatives changed their mind at the last minute and voted "yes" on the TPA. They were: Rod Blum, Iowa, Mo Brooks, Ala., Trent Franks, Ariz., Jody Hice, Ga., Matt Salmon, Ariz., David Schweikert, Ariz., and Martin Stutzman, Ind.
It is a pity that conservative groups like the Tea Party, Grassfire, and Numbers USA were so late in joining the opposition to the Trade Promotion Authority. Their opposition earlier in the game could have influenced more of the 65 or so Tea Party-supported representatives to have the courage to vote "no" on the TPA.
Democrats should be ashamed of the 28 representatives who voted to turn their backs on America's small businesses, farmers, ranchers and workers by approving the TPA. Those voting in favor were: Brad Ashford, Neb., Ami Bera, Calif., Don Beyer, Va., Earl Blumenauer, Ore., Suzanne Bonamici, Ore., Gerry Connolly, Va., Jim Cooper, Tenn., Jim Costa, Calif., Henry Cuellar, Texas, Susan Davis, Calif., John Delaney, Md., Suzan DelBene, Wash., Sam Farr, Calif., Jim Himes, Conn., Ruben Hinojosa, Texas, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Texas, Derek Kilmer, Wash., Ron Kind, Wis., Rick Larsen, Wash., Gregory Meeks, N.Y., Beto O'Rourke, Texas, Scott Peters, Calif., Jared Polis, Colo., Mike Quigley, Ill., Kathleen Rice, N.Y., Kurt Schrader, Ore., Terri Sewell, Ala., and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Fla. I don't know whether any of these Democrats changed their mind at the last minute, but the two representatives from San Diego, Susan Davis and Scott Peters, were "undecided" up to the day before the vote.
At the beginning of the year, there were 11 Democrat representatives in southern California that were undecided on the Trade Promotion Authority. Visits to district offices by me and members of the state chapter of the Coalition for a Prosperous America for which I am chair played a role in persuading 9 of the 11 to vote "no" on the TPA. This shows how important work at the district office level is to get our elected representatives to hear and pay attention to our voices.
Now that the re-vote on the Trade Adjustment Assistance has been delayed for two weeks, there is more time to put pressure on representatives that voted for the Trade Promotion Authority to influence them to vote against it. I urge you to contact your representative today and ask them to oppose the Trade Adjustment Assistance bill and a stand-alone Trade Promotion Authority bill. Together we can see that H. R. 1314 succumbs to a well-deserved death!