Despite a rare personal plea from the president himself, House Democrats have rejected his bid to gain fast-track authority to negotiate a trade deal. The move by the Democrats likely killed Obama's "chance to secure a legacy-defining trade accord spanning the Pacific Ocean," reports the New York Times. The Hill uses the word "humiliating," while the Washington Post settles for "major defeat." The loss didn't come on a vote about the fast-track legislation itself, but on a precursor for something called the Trade Adjustment Assistance program. The TAA would have provided help for people who lose their jobs in the trade deal, and its defeat dooms the overall measure. The House voted against it 302-126.
Its fate was sealed when Nancy Pelosi, who hadn't tipped her hand previously, spoke on the House floor before the vote. "I will be voting to slow down fast-track," she said. "Today we have an opportunity to slow down. Whatever the deal is with other countries, we want a better deal for American workers." Obama says he needs fast-track to get an agreement with foreign leaders on the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership; with it, Congress would just give the deal a yes or no vote, the Post previously explained. Without it, he can't guarantee that any promises he makes to them won't be undone by Congress, which would be able to amend the terms. (More background on how TAA plus TPA would have equaled TPP here.)