President Obama's humiliating defeat by his own party hasn't killed the Trans-Pacific Partnership just yet, but as Politico puts it, it's in "critical condition." Though House Democrats rejected his attempt to gain fast-track authority to negotiate the trade deal, Obama and House Republicans are exploring what the New York Times calls "complicated procedural options" that could still get him that authority, even without Democratic approval. In one option, House Republicans could propose an extension that would give Speaker John Boehner until the end of next month to gain approval of the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, which will help workers who lose their jobs thanks to global trade agreements. Approval of the measure, part of the TPP, would give Obama the needed authority, though it was defeated 302-126 on Friday. Voting on the extension could take place today.
"There are senior White House officials who were in touch with members of Congress over the weekend," says White House press secretary Josh Earnest, without mentioning names. Aides tell the Times that Obama and Boehner spoke over the phone. Still, passage of the TAA at this point seems unlikely as 70 Democrats don't appear to have changed their minds. Officials are toying with the idea of adding the TAA to a customs or must-pass bill, but many say Democrats would still oppose it. An attempt to pass the fast-track authority alone may not garner the required votes, either, as some Democrats who voted in favor of the measure on Friday were only interested in the aid for workers. "We obviously did a lot of heavy lifting over here to get the bill passed," Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn tells Politico. "But the truth is, this is the president’s problem, and it’s the Democrats who basically cut him off at the knees."