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What’s next after Democrats derail trade bill?

President Obama's long-sought trade deal is in limbo after a key part of the bill was defeated. The House effectively rejected a combination of proposals that would have given the president fast-trade trade authority. Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., talks to Judy Woodruff from Capitol Hill about why he voted against it.

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    The debate over trade saw one of its most dramatic days yet, as the U.S. House effectively rejected a combination of proposals that would together would give the president so-called fast track trade authority.

    Our political director, Lisa Desjardins, begins our coverage with the surprise in-person lobbying effort from the White House.


    Hours before today's showdown vote, President Obama made a rare last-ditch appeal to House Democrats on Capitol Hill who were rebelling against his trade agenda. The so-called fast track trade legislation would help pave the way for the multination Trans-Pacific Partnership deal.

    That's near completion and it's a key component of the president's economic agenda. The bill will allow the president to finalize global trade deals that Congress can either vote up or down, but not amend. After the 30-minute meeting with Democrats, the president seemed unsure if he'd secured his own party's support.


    I don't think you ever nail anything down around right here. It's always moving.


    California's Brad Sherman was pretty clearly unmoved.

  • REP. BRAD SHERMAN, D-Calif.:

    Did he persuade me that that's a good policy? No.


    But Ron Kind of Wisconsin did pledge support.

  • REP. RON KIND, D-Wisc.:

    For us as a caucus now not even to give him the decency or the respect to trust him a little bit to try to go out and negotiate a good trade agreement that we will have plenty of time in the future to analyze and determine whether it makes sense for our district, our states or our country, I think, is selling this administration short.


    The president wasn't the only one making a full-court Capitol press.

  • MAN:

    Do you know about fast track? They're voting right now on it.


    Anti-fast track activists made their opinions known outside. And if you knew where to look, you could spot lobbyists supporting the deal quickly working on cell phones a few steps away.

    Inside, on the House floor, Speaker John Boehner insisted the trade legislation is crucial to America's prosperity.

    REP. JOHN BOEHNER, Speaker of the House: When America leads, the world is safer for freedom and for free enterprise. And when we don't lead, we're allowing and frankly essentially inviting China to go right on setting the rules of the world economy.


    Boehner doesn't typically vote on bills, but made an exception today. Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan, the head of the House Ways and Means Committee, echoed his support.

  • REP. PAUL RYAN, R-Wisc.:

    If we want to create more jobs in America, we have got to make more things here in America and sell them over there.


    But Democrats like Debbie Dingell of Michigan charged that the legislation actually harms U.S. job creation.


    The vote today is why I came to Congress. I promised the working men and women in my district that I would fight to make sure they had a seat at the table when we were making decisions that impact their life and their livelihood. Enough is enough. Congress cannot abdicate its responsibility to the working men of this country.


    Democrats faced a kind of "Sophie's Choice" here today. That's because the bill that many of them oppose, that fast track trade authority for the president, or TPA, was connected by a rule to another bill called TAA, or Trade Adjustment Assistance. That bill would give assistance or relief to workers displaced by trade.

    Democrats traditionally support it, but they blocked it today in order to try and take down that fast track trade bill.

    One of those Democrats, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi:

  • REP. NANCY PELOSI, House Minority Leader:

    I'm prepared to vote against TAA, because then its defeat, sad to say, is the only way that we will be able to slow down the fast track.

  • MAN:

    The nays are 302.


    That vote on the TAA came in the early afternoon and it went down in a rout, 302 to 126. Republican leaders then held the vote on the fast track trade authority. At that point, it was a symbolic gesture. That narrowly passed, 219 to 211, largely with Republican votes. But, again, both TAA and TPA needed passage for the overall legislation to become law.

    At the White House, Press Secretary Josh Earnest tried to strike an optimistic tone.

  • JOSH EARNEST, White House Press Secretary:

    There was a lot of skepticism about how much Democratic support the president would succeed in building. And getting the support of 28 House Democrats is a good sign of the kind of bipartisan majority that the president was seeking to build.


    So what now? Republican leaders plan to hold another House vote on the TAA by Tuesday. If it passes, the president will get the fast track trade authority he wants. But how to get those votes, that remains unclear.

    Lisa Desjardins, PBS NewsHour.


    In fact, the president lost more than 140 Democrats on one of the crucial trade votes today, more than expected.

    Last night, we heard from White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.

    Tonight, we hear from a House Democrat who's been a vocal opponent, Representative Peter DeFazio from Oregon. I spoke with him late this afternoon.

    Welcome, Congressman Peter DeFazio.

    Congressman, in voting down this trade legislation, something the president has lobbied for, for months, this was a direct rebuke to him, wasn't it?


    It's a rebuke to the policy he's trying to push through Congress with fast track authority, no amendments allowed, up-or-down vote only for the largest trade agreement in the history of the United States, 29 chapters long.

    And it was a rebuke for what we know of those policies. It's a classified document that many of us have read part of it. It doesn't do many things that he purports it does. It doesn't have enforceable labor standards. It doesn't have enforceable environmental standards. It doesn't do anything about currency manipulation. He admits that.

    And it sets up new secret, private tribunals which are only accessible by multinational corporations, where they can challenge our domestic laws. That's — that's pretty amazing stuff.


    Well, Congressman, you told reporters earlier that the president hurt his own cause, in effect, by what he said to members when he met with you earlier today. What did he say?


    Well, he feels like he's being personally attacked. We're not attacking him personally, nor his motives. But he went on at some length about that.

    We are opposed to the policies he's putting forward. And, secondly, he then questioned us, in saying we weren't being straight, implying that we were being less than honest by using the only vehicle we had to slow this thing down, which was voting down trade adjustment assistance. I found that offensive, as did many other members of the Congress.


    We interviewed Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, on the "NewsHour" last night. He said it does have enforceable labor standards. He said it does have enforceable environmental standards. He talked about it's going to create jobs.

    Are you saying the White House is mistaken, or what?


    Probably, the White House has been briefed by their special trade representative, who's a salesman. And, you know, I have read those chapters. I can't talk about them in detail because they're classified.

    But let me just say this. The use of the word "may" doesn't sound like a binding standard to me.


    Well, let me also quote to you from what one of your fellow Democratic congressmen, Ron Kind, said. We just heard him tell our reporter Lisa Desjardins, he said, "For our caucus not to even give the president," in his words, "the decency or respect to trust him a little bit to go out and negotiate a trade agreement," he said, is selling the administration short.


    We have read in classified form, which we can't talk about, the proposed document. We see sections that have been written by corporations and confirmed in e-mails that they were written by corporations and inserted into that bill.

    We just saw last night the Republicans repealed country of origin meat labeling. I believe 93 percent of the American people support that. And we did that because of a weaker trade agreement that we're in, the WTO, where we can't be challenged by corporations, only by other governments. Under this one, any corporation can challenge any American law.

    And we know that the pharmaceutical industry is the big winner in this. And it's very likely that they will come back and challenge our requirement that they give the lowest price to Medicaid patients, that they give reduced prices to people on Medicare Part D, that they will attack our bulk purchasing for veterans.

    Now, the president is right. They can't make us repeal those laws. They can just make us pay to keep them. And that's why, last night, the Republicans repealed country of origin meat labeling, because we would have had to pay $3 billion a year to label where your meat came from.

    That's what these agreements are about. Very little of this is about trade or tariffs. It's all about making it safe for more U.S. companies to move jobs overseas.


    One thing I do want to ask you about, in voting as Democrat — many Democrats like you did, you voted down something that Democrats normally — normally support with a lot of passion, and that is assistance for workers who've lost their jobs.

    What happens to that legislation and to that support now?


    Well, first off, it was a very inadequately funded provision, and the Republicans proposed to fund it by cutting Medicare. We didn't much like that.

    And, secondly, this trade agreement is so big, there are going to be hundreds of thousands of jobs lost. And, you know, that Trade Adjustment Assistance package wouldn't be adequate. And, third, we're legislators. We are — 85 percent of the Democratic Caucus is opposed to the Trans-Pacific Partnership under the conditions which the president is putting it forward. And that was our only legislative opportunity to derail this thing.


    Congressman Peter DeFazio joining us from the Capitol, we thank you.


    Thank you.

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