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A bipartisan vote in the House gave President Obama, who made a special, emergency trip to Capitol Hill this morning, a big middle finger on Fast Track for the trade deals he's been pushing for several years.
The NY Times reports,
'In a remarkable rejection of a president they have resolutely backed, House Democrats voted to kill assistance to workers displaced by global trade, a program their party created and has stood by for four decades. By doing so, they brought down legislation granting the president trade promotion authority -- the power to negotiate trade deals that cannot be amended or filibustered by Congress -- before it could even come to a final vote.
"We want a better deal for America's workers," said Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House minority leader who has guided the president's agenda for two terms and was personally lobbied by Mr. Obama until the last minute.'
BREAKING: Congress has just voted down the Fast Track package, dealing a major blow to the push for more-of-the-same trade deals and a major victory to the diverse coalition pushing for a new trade model.
Lori Wallach, Director, Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch wrote this statement:
The Fast Track package sent over from the Senate was rejected today by the House because two years of effort by a vast corporate coalition, the White House and GOP leaders -- and weeks of procedural gimmicks and deals swapped for yes votes --could not assuage Americans' concerns that more of the same trade policy would kill more jobs and push down our wages.
Passing trade bills opposed by a majority of Americans does not get easier with delay because the more time people have to understand what's at stake, the angrier they get and the more they demand that their congressional representatives represent their will.
Welcome to the weekend as the millions of Americans across the political spectrum actively campaigning against Fast Track will intensify their efforts to permanently retire the Nixon-era scheme and replace it with a more inclusive, transparent process that instead of more job-offshoring can deliver trade deals that create American jobs and raise our wages.
Today the allegedly unstoppable momentum of the White House, GOP leadership and corporate coalition pushing Fast Track to grease the path for adoption of the almost-completed, controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal just hit the immovable object called transpartisan grassroots democracy.
The crazy gimmicks employed to try to overcome what polls show is broad opposition to Fast Track actually backfired. Yesterday, the House GOP leadership put most GOP representatives on record in favor of cutting Medicare by $700 million with a vote on a procedural gimmick. Today, it was Democrats' ire about a gutted version of a program to assist workers who will be hurt by the trade agreements Fast Track would enable that was the proximate cause of the meltdown. That program was included only to try to provide cover for the two dozen Democrats who would even consider supporting Fast Track at all.
Today's outcome is a testament to the strength and diversity of the remarkable coalition of thousands of organizations that overcame a money-soaked lobbying campaign by multinational corporations and intense arm-twisting by the GOP House leadership and the Obama administration. The movement now demanding a new American trade policy is larger and more diverse than in any preceding trade policy fight. It includes everyone from small business leaders and labor unions to Internet freedom advocates and faith groups to family farmers and environmentalists to consumer advocates and LGBT groups to retirees and civil rights groups to law professors and economists.