Amid all the confusion of what exactly happened last week, two things are clear: Democrats deserted their president, and the House passed trade promotion authority, or TPA, legislation on Friday with broad bipartisan support. Though the work is not over yet, the chaos among House Democrats and the cooperation among House Republicans are striking. TPA united the Republican Party and sent a clear message to the nation: This new majority came to Washington to work.
Yesterday, Chairman Ryan appeared on Fox News Sunday and applauded the Republican effort in a conversation with host Chris Wallace:
“I am very proud of House Republicans and the pro-trade Democrats who delivered. We delivered big time . . . . The Democrats abandoned their president—the leader of their party—in droves on a bill and a program that they demanded as part of this, that they have previously voted for unanimously, that they asked as a part of the process. To me, it was stunning that they would do this to the leader of their party.”
The Washington Post’s Kelsey Snell explains the Republicans’ heavy lift in passing TPA:
“Over the past few months, the House Ways and Means Committee chairman took it upon himself to personally make the sell for trade, shaking hands and keeping tabs on members even as the ‘no’ votes increased.”
“The Wisconsin Republican sought solutions to Democratic concerns, made impassioned pleas on the House floor and held a rally for Republican trade supporters in a small committee room inside the Capitol. In the end, nearly every Republican member on his powerful tax-writing committee voted in favor of both the TAA retraining program and fast-track authority.”
In an article aptly titled “Pelosi Knifes Obama,” the Wall Street Journal’s editorial board applauded the House Republicans for their commitment to legislating:
“Despite Mrs. Pelosi’s intransigence, Republicans showed they can deliver on their pro-trade promises.”
The Washington Post editorial board recognized this as a Republican victory, calling the Democrats’ actions “political hostage:”
“No one has had frostier dealings with the president than Republican House Speaker John A. Boehner (Ohio) or Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (Wis.), yet they managed to put that aside for the sake of a shared goal: the passage of fast-track authority.”
But, as we’ve noted more work remains, Democrats have gone to great lengths to slow down the process. Peter Baker and Jennifer Steinhauer of the New York Times also weighed in on this with the crystal clear headline, “Democrats desert their president:”
“Yet in the end, after years of frustration with Republicans blocking his ideas in Congress, President Obama on Friday found the most sweeping legislative initiative left on his agenda thwarted not by the opposition but by his own party. If not for his fellow Democrats, Mr. Obama would have a landmark trade bill heading to his desk for signature.“
Despite this, action on trade promotion authority will roll ahead. It’s far too important for our economy, our national security, and American leadership to stop now. And let all remember: When everything was on the line, Republicans stepped up and delivered.