President Barack Obama’s trade agenda appears to be back on track after an extraordinary bipartisan rescue operation mounted in the week since it was derailed in the House by rebellious Democrats backed by organized labor.
Working in tandem with the White House, Republican officials arranged for a Thursday vote in the House on a measure to give Obama authority to negotiate global trade deals that Congress can approve or reject, but not change. The Obama administration wants that authority as part of an effort to complete a 12-nation trade deal with Pacific Rim countries, including Japan.
Separately, a bill to renew an expiring program of aid for workers who lose their jobs because of imports will move quickly.
“We are committed to ensuring both … get votes in the House and Senate and are sent to the president for signature,” House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a joint statement issued Wednesday in an attempt to reassure pro-trade Democrats whose votes will be needed.
At the White House, Obama met separately with Democrats lawmakers inclined to support the legislation.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi had no comment on the day’s events. The California Democrat joined the revolt last week in which her party’s rank-and-file lawmakers helped vote down the aid package that they customarily support, calculating their actions would prevent the entire trade package from reaching Obama’s desk.