Trade Bill Derailed in Stunning House Vote

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Though it wasn’t the resounding rejection progressives had hoped for, the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday dealt a serious blow to President Barack Obama’s corporate-backed trade agenda, while erecting a major stumbling block for proponents of Fast Track, or trade promotion authority.

After a tense showdown and multiple votes in the chamber, a final decision on Fast Track was ultimately deferred, affording a delay that critics say could further scuttle the trade authority.

A bill on Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), which would provide aid to workers displaced because of so-called “free trade” agreements, had been packaged with Fast Track authority, and a vote against either doomed the total package. Legislators opposed to Fast Track sought to derail the entire package by voting against TAA.

And derail it they did, voting 126-302 against TAA.

Moments later, the chamber did pass a stand-alone version of Fast Track. But, as the New York Times explains, because the Senate version linked TAA and Fast Track, the House vote “would force the Senate to take up a trade bill all over again. And without trade adjustment assistance alongside it, passing trade promotion authority in the Senate would be highly doubtful.”

Instead, the House will reportedly take up TAA again next week.

Still, progressives viewed Friday’s deferral of a final decision as a victory even as they cautioned against becoming complacent.

“I applaud the House of Representatives for the vote today,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in a statement after the vote. “While the fight will no doubt continue, today’s vote is a victory for America’s working people and for the environment. It is clearly a defeat for corporate America, which has outsourced millions of decent-paying jobs and wants to continue doing just that.”

Image Credit: Katie Harbath, flickr

This article originally appeared on Common Dreams.

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