House of Representatives Democrats warn Senate on trade deal
House Democrats are calling on the Senate to reject a plan to pass a worker aid bill that is the lynchpin to securing a "Fast Track" trade deal.
Several House Democrats sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., urging them to refrain from attaching the Trade Adjustment Assistance Act to the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a bill giving preferred trade status to some African nations.
The two measures may be tethered together in order to lure Democrats into passing TAA, which they have opposed in order to stall the "Fast Track" trade deal.
"AGOA is too important to be used as a bargaining chip," said the letter, which was signed by Reps. C.K. Butterfield of North Carolina, Karen Bass and Barbara Lee of California, and Keith Ellison of Minnesota.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., supports the letter, an aide told the Washington Examiner.
Senate GOP leaders hoped to attach AGOA and the worker aid bill and pass them first in the Senate, then the House.
Separately, the Senate would vote the Trade Promotion Authority bill, also called "Fast Track," that House lawmakers passed Thursday.
Senate Democratic lawmakers said they will only back the "Fast Track" bill if Obama will sign the TAA bill at the same time. That can't happen if House Democrats block it.
Pelosi signaled Thursday attaching TAA to the African trade preferences measure would not make it out of the House.
"I don't see a path for TAA right now," Pelosi said.
House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, told reporters Thursday he expects the Senate to pass the joined AGOA/TAA measure despite Democratic opposition, along with the TPA measure, "as soon as next week so that we can both of these to the president."