Trade Bill Puts Pelosi And Boehner Between Barack And Their Parties

Kerry Picket Political Reporter
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House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi gave no clues to reporters Thursday morning as to how she would vote on the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation that is being marked up in the Ways and Means Committee.

“I’m not telling how I’m voting on anything since we don’t have anything yet,” she said, noting her criticism of the bill is because she believes it does not do enough to protect American workers.

Pelosi was placed in a difficult position when the Obama backed bill was first introduced last month. The California congresswoman’s remarks on the issue was a breakthrough of sorts, as she has been avoiding talking about it to the press for some time.

A couple of strange political bedfellows are fighting one another over this trade legislation. Pelosi is caught between the liberal members of her own party who are in opposition to Obama’s fast-track trade bill, which would increase the president’s trade authority.

The Minority Leader said in a statement Wednesday night that she does support Ways and Means ranking member Sandy Levin’s substitute in lieu of the fast track proposal put forth by the Committee’s Chairman, Paul Ryan. The fast-track plan would allow for the president to discuss the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with other Pacific Rim countries. Such a move could open up new markets to U.S. companies.

Pelosi said in her statement that Levin’s substitute “recognizes that TPP has the potential to raise standards and open new markets for U.S. businesses, workers and farmers, and makes suggestions on how to do so.”

While some Republicans, led by House Speaker John Boehner, support the president’s goal in this legislative battle, a number of conservatives are opposed to it, believing that any expansion of Obama’s authority is a bad idea. Members of both parties in the lower chamber supportive of TPA will need to find 218 votes for passage.

Boehner told reporters Thursday he is “confident” that the bipartisan group of members will find enough support to pass the bill in the House.

“But in order to accomplish our goal, we’re going to need some bipartisan support. This will bill have strong support from House Republicans. We’ll do our part, but the president must do his part, as well,” he said.