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Lawmakers in the House narrowly passed legislation aimed at shoring up President Barack Obama's ability to negotiate a massive 12-nation trade pact on Thursday.
The vote, 218 to 208, on giving the president "fast track" authority to negotiate a sweeping multinational trade pact, comes roughly a week after Democratic lawmakers in the House helped undermine trade pact legislation. The measure now heads back to the Senate for approval.
Last week, while the House passed the “fast track” measure, or Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), they voted against a measure on financial assistance for displaced workers , Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA). By rule, both measures needed to pass in order for the overall package to move forward.
Democrats — who typically support the worker assistance measure — voted against it in hopes of trying to get a better deal for the overall fast-track imitative. Republican leadership, however, moved ahead Thursday with a new plan without making changes some House Democrats had hoped.
Now, both measures will receive separate votes.
During comments on Thursday, Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said she doesn't see a path for both “fast track” authority and the financial assistance for displaced workers measure to pass the House and Senate.
“This has been a longstanding difference in the Democratic Party, having nothing to do with the president of the United States and everything to do with our bosses, the constituents we work for,” Pelosi said. “But again, we have deep friendships, deep respect, and move onto the next subject.”
House Speaker John Boehner — who called the events over the past few weeks regarding trade “close to bizarre” as Republicans have been helping President Obama push the trade legislation — remained optimistic.
“We're going to have this vote here pretty soon,” Boehner said. “I'm confident that we're in a pretty good place.”