Minutes after his former Democratic colleagues in the Senate filibustered his trade deal, President Obama sent a message to supporters declaring the fight was “personal for me” and pleading with liberals to rally around him.
The president has been working with congressional Republicans to try to win fast-track trade powers, which would allow him to more easily negotiate trade agreements such as the Trans Pacific Partnership deal with 11 nations that border the Pacific Ocean.
But Democrats, including dozens who served in the Senate when Mr. Obama was there, have balked at his efforts, questioning whether he has American workers’ interests in mind. On Tuesday, they rallied to filibuster the fast-track bill, derailing it.
“This is personal for me. I understand the skepticism about this, or any, trade deal. I’ve met folks across the country who still feel burned by agreements of the past. Those are the people I came to Washington to fight for,” the president said in an email sent out by his campaign team, vowing that he wouldn’t repeat the mistakes of past trade deals in his negotiations.
The White House insisted Tuesday’s filibuster defeat was a “procedural snafu,” and wouldn’t be fatal to the trade deal in the end.
Spokesman Josh Earnest said the pressure is on Democrats and Republicans in Congress to come together to find a bipartisan path forward.
But Republicans said Mr. Obama needs to do more to get his own troops in line. All GOP senators voted to debate the fast-track deal, joined by only a single Democrat.
“Does the president of the United States have enough clout with members of his own political party to produce enough votes to get this bill debated and ultimately passed?” said Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican.