House Republicans are working to effort to start again on the trade bills and send the Senate a different package then was sent to the House a few weeks ago.
They are efforting splitting up the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) and underlying Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bills into two separate parts…unlike the way it was packaged when the measures came from the Senate.
Remember, they were contingent upon one another when the Senate sent them over.
So, House Republicans are banking on the fact they can pass the TPA bill…by itself…with lots of Republicans, but 28 important Demorats. Those are the same 28 Democrats who voted yes on Friday when the House approved TPA. And Republicans need them because they can’t pass the bill by themselves and only scored 193 Republican yeas on Friday.
“Once they made the commitment, they’re in,” said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).
The GOP effort touched off some wild scrambling on Capitol Hill Tuesday as there was chatter about potentially trying to put the new split-bill effort on the House floor as early as Wednesday. That would have involved a late-night meeting of the House Rules Committee to set up the debate for Wednesday.
In fact, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), an opponent of TPA, quickly scheduled an emergency Democratic Caucus meeting for early Wednesday morning to remind her members what they were voting for and perhaps bring down the boom on the 28 Democratic yeas.
But Pelosi cancelled the caucus meeting as quickly as it was scheduled as word came that the House would not try to move in the next 24 hours.
Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI), the biggest advocate for TPA in the House, huddled with House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) to urge the GOP to hold off on scheduling a vote until they could see what the Senate could accommodate. Kind then headed off to the Senate, to try to talk with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, to see if a split-bill approach would work in the Senate.
It’s believed that the only reason the Senate was able to approve TPA is because it was glommed together with TAA. And if the House then sends the Senate a package it can’t handle the effort is moot.
So for now, the House GOP brass is trying to move something, but it’s unclear when. And unclear what it will look like.
We will bring you the latest on this issue as we learn more.