House Democrats are turning their backs on President Barack Obama’s plan to pass legislation that allows him to send trade deals to Congress for fast-tracking, according to Politico
Republicans are also fighting the proposal, and Obama faces a major defeat of a measure that had become a leading priority during the remainder of his term in office.
House Democrats say that just 12 to 20 of their members support the trade deal plan while more than 75 House Republicans could also vote against the fast-track arrangement.
"It's very low on the Democratic side," said Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn of South Carolina about liberal support in Congress, which could result in a humiliating defeat for the president.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland said the Democratic numbers are "probably pretty accurate" but added the White House is keeping the count. On the other hand, the Senate is expected to approve the legislation.
The bill, which would involve 40 percent of world economic output, is aimed at allowing Obama to submit trade agreements to Congress for straight up-or-down votes without amendments, according to Politico. The bill would help Obama complete the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership with Japan and 10 other countries.
The website added that while business leaders are backing the bill, labor and many activist groups strongly oppose it.
The Obama administration has started a major push to get the bill through, with Obama meeting 30 pro-business lawmakers who are members of the moderate New Democrat Coalition. He’s also been seeking the support of Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) members.
Obama met last week with Clyburn, CBC Chairman G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina, and Reps. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas and Greg Meeks of New York about the trade measure.
"I am in constant consultation with the leadership, but I am not there yet," said Clyburn, who is still on the fence.
Butterfield revealed that he was opposed to the fast-tracking plan because he was "still tarnished by the trade deals of the 1990s. NAFTA and other trade deals. My district and me personally."
But Butterfield said that he will continue to research the topic, "because I want to give the president and those proponents the benefit of the doubt."
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