Tags: Barack Obama | Exclusive Interviews | Newsmax Now | Newsmax TV | David Goodfriend | Trans-Pacific Partnership | Tim Constantine

Dem Strategist: Obama Trade Deal Struggling on Capitol Hill

By    |   Wednesday, 20 May 2015 04:51 PM

Setting a holiday deadline for passage of a trade measure the White House really wants might get the bill through the Senate before the Memorial Day weekend, but not the House, where deep divisions remain over a huge multinational free-trade pact, a Democratic strategist tells Newsmax TV.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is trying "to inject some urgency into the trade matter and I'm not convinced, quite frankly, that in the House they have the votes," strategist David Goodfriend told "Newsmax Now" hosts Miranda Khan and John Bachman on Wednesday.

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The vote is on whether to give President Barack Obama amendment-proof authority to cut a 12-nation trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which has generated odd alliances both for and against, and sparked a political firefight on the left.

Goodfriend — joined on air by conservative columnist and talk show host Tim Constantine — estimated there may be as few as 17 House Democrats willing to sign off on so-called "fast-track" authority for the president.

"We've got a lot of conservatives who are not willing to vote for it," said Goodfriend, "and getting to 218 could be very difficult for [House] Speaker [John] Boehner."

Constantine agreed that getting the fast-track measure through will be "a challenge, but I do think it will pass."

"But the fascinating part of the trade bill is … you have folks far at one end and far at the other in agreement," he said, adding that "some of your most liberal members [of Congress] are in disagreement with their president.

"So it's been interesting to watch it unfold," he said.

The TPP feud has seen liberal critics accuse Obama of negotiating in secrecy and putting corporate interests above the needs of American workers. The president has responded by calling his party's most visible TPP opponent, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, "a politician like everybody else."

McConnell also wants votes this week on bills covering transportation funding and national security. The "Newsmax Now" panelists said that transportation — road, rail, and bridge funding — looks more likely of the two to advance in the current political climate.

But Constantine said it's likely to be a stopgap measure because raising gas taxes in order to replenish a national infrastructure fund is a nonstarter for most Republicans. So lawmakers will "kick the can down the road," he said.

Goodfriend said that a gas tax hike isn't the only option and that a lasting infrastructure funding fix has support from labor unions and business leaders alike.

On national security, the panelists were skeptical of McConnell's push for renewal of the Patriot Act with its controversial — and possibly illegal — domestic spying provisions intact.

"This is the classic fear tactic: Let's scare people into thinking it's all or nothing," said Constantine.

Goodfriend said McConnell will "rue the day that he was this aggressive against civil liberties because members of his own party seem to disagree."

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Setting a holiday deadline for passage of a trade measure the White House really wants might get the bill through the Senate before the Memorial Day weekend, but not the House, where deep divisions remain over a huge multinational free-trade pact, a Democratic strategist said.
David Goodfriend, Trans-Pacific Partnership, Tim Constantine, House, TPP, Senate
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2015-51-20
Wednesday, 20 May 2015 04:51 PM
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