Market News & Headlines >> Fast-Track Stalled in House

Efforts to provide President Obama with so-called fast-track trade negotiating powers stalled in the U.S. House of Representatives at least temporarily on Friday after the House voted down accompanying legislation that would provide aid for U.S. workers whose jobs are displaced by trade agreements.

The House voted 219-211 in favor of granting Obama Trade Promotion Authority, better known as fast-track authority, but that vote was largely symbolic after the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) bill was soundly defeated by a margin of 302-126. That’s because the Senate last month passed fast-tack authority and TAA in a single bill and included language saying they must be passed together.

House leadership, however, broke up the bills, giving Democrats the opportunity to block fast-track, even though it had enough votes to pass.

A House Republican aide told reporters Republican leaders hope to hold another vote on Tuesday to pass the TAA portion of the bill, which would allow the entire bill to be signed into law by Obama. However, the chances for that vote to succeed are uncertain with Democrats under heavy pressure from big labor and other groups to stop fast-track authority at any cost.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) has said that holding firm on TAA now will allow Democrats to negotiate a better fast-track bill.

The National Association of Corn Growers on Friday expressed its disappointment with the worker aid vote and called on Congress to “put aside petty politics and stand up for American Agriculture”.