WASHINGTON – The US House of Representatives approved a stand-alone trade promotion bill, but House Democrats rejected a bill that would provide assistance for workers displaced by global trade. President Obama had to win both votes to receive trade promotion power.

The House voted on three measures: the Trade Assistance Adjustment, Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and Trade Facilitation and Enforcement Act. Lawmakers rejected the Trade Assistance Adjustment measure by a vote of 126-302. The TPA passed with a vote of 219-211, and the customs trade enforcement legislation passed 240-190.

Citing “zeal for the deal,” US Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., said the vote was “a referendum on giving the President more authority.”

Massie added that the vote reflected unease about the process of developing the trade legislation. Full details of the TPP have not yet been made public, which raised concerns among critics of the deal.
“We support trade, we just don’t support the TPA,” Massie said.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. made remarks before the vote indicating trouble for the Trade Assistance Adjustment measure. Pelosi said she voted against the Trade Assistance Adjustment program to get “a better deal” for American workers. Unions and environmental groups, allies of the Democratic Party, strongly oppose the TPP.

During a press briefing, Pelosi said, “...what I'm concerned about in all of this is that we watched as the Senate had the debate on Trade Promotion Authority — they had the ability to have amendments, discussion, debate. Some objected. Some accepted. And then the bill came to the House where we had no opportunity, no opportunity to have any debate or make any amendments,” Pelosi explained. “It was fast tracking the fast track. And it gave new meaning to the term ‘lower house.’”

Pelosi added that many House members had ideas for improving the TPA and having those ideas in open discussion would have helped US trade partners understand concerns and priorities of House lawmakers.

Despite the vote, the Obama Administration remains optimistic — House Republicans have called for a re-vote by June 16.