The White House made clear Friday it is not interested in Hillary Rodham Clinton’s help in getting President Obama’s trade package through Congress.
Mrs. Clinton, the president’s former secretary of state and the Democratic party’s 2016 presidential front-runner, has remained silent on the trade debate that has consumed Washington in recent weeks. White House officials won’t be reaching out to Mrs. Clinton in the hopes she breaks her silence and rallies Democrats to the president’s side.
“We would be very concerned about the position of Secretary Clinton if she had a vote in the House of Representatives. I assure you that, if she did, she would be subject to a pretty aggressive lobbying campaign by the president on down. … Unfortunately she does not have a vote,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters. “She is obviously a significant figure in the Democratic party and people care a lot about what she has to say. But she’s focused on running her campaign right now and is not focused on whipping votes in the House of Representatives one way or the other — and that means she’s got her priorities straight right now.”
A piece of Mr. Obama’s broader trade package — legislation known as Trade Adjustment Assistance, which would provide funding for workers displaced by trade agreements — was soundly defeated in the House Friday by a vote of 302 to 126.
Other pieces of the package, including Trade Promotion Authority, cleared the chamber.
Mr. Earnest said the White House is confident the entire package eventually will pass the House and find its way to Mr. Obama’s desk.