[Ip-health] Politico: Naming names helped Obama get fast-track back on track

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Wed May 13 23:08:13 PDT 2015


The White House named names. And not 24 hours later, President Barack Obama
and his aides had a deal to get fast-track back on track.

After resistant Democrats scuttled a vote Tuesday to move forward on one of
Obama’s signature goals — authority to negotiate details of an upcoming
Pacific trade pact — the president called resistant Democrats to the White
House. Then his aides took the unusual step of releasing a list of which
senators attended.

Democrats on Capitol Hill say the agreement they reached the next day to
move forward on the legislation extracted real concessions from Republican
leadership. But in the end, the dramatic gesture of voting against their
own president got Democrats little beyond delaying the vote to open debate
on Obama’s trade agenda to Thursday, instead of Tuesday.


White House officials said the agreement that will now open debate on the
trade package on Thursday only seems like a dramatic turnaround because
Tuesday’s doom and gloom was overblown. The president’s trade agenda is
moving again, on its way through the Senate and off to the much more
problematic House. And the president has regained the momentum.


This time, Obama aides strategically put out word to reporters of the
meeting, even before senators had arrived at the White House. Shortly after
the meeting ended, they released the list: the seven Democrats who’d voted
for fast-track in committee, plus Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Patty
Murray (D-Wash.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.).

A few hours before, every Senate Democrat except Tom Carper of Delaware had
publicly rebuked his trade effort. Now the White House put on the spot the
other nine who had either publicly or privately indicated they would
support the underlying fast-track and Trade Adjustment Assistance package,
but who voted against opening debate.

In other words, the president had more than enough votes just in the room
to get the trade bill moving. According to senators who were there, the
president took his time, spending 90 minutes to explain why they needed to
get their act together. He said he didn’t really care about the Chinese
currency manipulation bill or anything else that Senate Minority Leader
Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and other

Democrats were insisting had to be packaged together to let the fast-track
bill, known as Trade Promotion Authority, move forward. Do the bills, don’t
do them — whatever. Just give him TPA, he said, showing even less interest
in internal Senate machinations than he usually does.

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