- The Washington Times - Monday, June 15, 2015

House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said Monday he was “disturbed,” “disappointed” and “confused” by Democrats who decided to buck President Obama last week and spoil the White House’s bid for fast-track trade negotiating powers.

But the California Republican refused to give up, saying the trade package will go forward — one way or another — on the strength of an alliance among Mr. Obama, House Republicans and pro-trade Democrats. He said Democratic holdouts will rue their decision not to come to the table.

“Trade is going forward,” Mr. McCarthy told reporters. “If they want something, they ought to engage.”

Mr. McCarthy reserved his harshest criticism for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, who “disappointed and confused” him Friday by denouncing the push for trade and advocating to kill a Democratic priority — extra assistance for workers displaced by trade agreements known as Trade Adjustment Assistance — in order to defeat the broader trade agenda.

GOP leaders left the door open for a revote, but it will take a huge effort by Mr. Obama, who will need to switch votes of dozens of Democrats who defeated the trade assistance bill, 302-126.

Many Democrats view the trade measure as poisonous to their re-election chances next year because of constituents’ concerns that U.S. jobs are being lost overseas.

Mr. McCarthy didn’t lay out a specific path forward — he will meet with fellow GOP leaders Monday afternoon — but urged Democrats to “come to their senses” and clear the package.

“This is an opportunity … for the president and Democrats to come together and find the ability to get [the trade package] through,” Mr. McCarthy said. “We’ll reassess it later today. We have the ability to bring it back up.”

House leaders typically have two legislative days to bring the bill up for reconsideration, but Mr. McCarthy said they can use procedural rules to delay it further.

Friday’s doomed vote on worker assistance, known as Trade Adjustment Assistance, was supposed to pass first on the strength of Democratic votes, clearing the way for the fast-track powers, known as Trade Promotion Authority, to pass on the strength of GOP votes.

And the TPA did gain a majority, scoring a 219-211 tally — but that vote was symbolic since the worker assistance package had already failed.

Mr. McCarthy said the Democratic revolt was remarkable, given that Mr. Obama personally lobbied Democrats at last week’s congressional baseball game huddled with them at the Capitol shortly before the vote, yet still failed to sway enough of his party allies.

“It’s almost like a civil war in the Democratic party,” he said.

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