President Barack Obama was dealt a debilitating blow to his free-train initiative by House Democrats on 12 June after members of his own party shot down a key component of the bill.
The president tried in vain to persuade his party members to support his measure, only to be rebuffed by some of his closest allies. Politico reported Obama made a rare visit to the Capitol, spending 40 minutes with Democrats to promote the legislation.
According to the Washington Post, the bill's take down revealed how ineffective House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's power of persuasion is among her party. The Democratic House leader worked tirelessly to gain support for the free trade deal only to support the opposition at the very end, the Post reported.
"Whatever the deal is with other countries," Pelosi said before the crucial vote, "We want a better deal for America's workers."
Obama will now be tasked with the arduous job of convincing dozens of Democrats to throw their support to his cause in the planned repeat vote next week.
House members defeated the measure known as Trade Adjustment Assistance, which aimed to help workers displaced by free trade. According to Politic, the measure was needed to enact its partner legislation which would grant Obama fast-track trade authority to work on the Trans-Pacific Partnership
A total of 144 Democrats joined forced with 158 Republicans to put a stop to the overall package of trade bills. The final vote for the TAA bill was 126-302.
House Republicans said they have 100 votes for the TAA vote next week, meaning Democrats need to come up with 118 for the measure to pass. According to Politico, Democrats have backed TAA in the past, but have complained that this particular package is too small.
While the TAA failed, the House did approve the fast-track legislation, otherwise known as Trade Promotion Authority, in a vote of 219-211. However, Politico noted that the enactment of TPA is contingent on the passage of TAA.