Nancy Pelosi, for tak­ing a hostage she couldn’t re­ally keep

The Washington Post Sunday - - OUTLOOK - By Chris Cil­lizza Have a can­di­date for the worst week in Washington? E-mail Chris Cil­lizza at chris.cil­lizza@wash­

Hostage-tak­ing in pol­i­tics is al­ways a dan­ger­ous game. It’s an all-or-noth­ing gam­ble — just the sort of thing politi­cians like to stay away from. House Mi­nor­ity Leader Nancy Pelosi (DCalif.) was re­minded why this past week amid the on­go­ing tus­sle among House Democrats, Se­nate Democrats and the White House over leg­is­la­tion that would hand Pres­i­dent Obama con­sid­er­able power to ne­go­ti­ate the Trans-Part­ner­ship.

Democrats have long sup­ported trade ad­just­ment as­sis­tance (TAA) — a pro­gram to com­pen­sate work­ers who lose jobs be­cause of trade deals — and it was as­sumed that Pelosi would back it this time. But lib­er­als, led by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), re­belled against Pelosi, op­pos­ing TAA, even though they sup­port it, to slow the over­all trade deal. Pelosi re­lented, and TAA failed.

Fast-for­ward to Thurs­day, when the House passed Trade Pro­mo­tion Au­thor­ity (TPA), which gives Obama wide lat­i­tude to ne­go­ti­ate on be­half of the United States in the 12-coun­try Pa­cific trade deal. The bill didn’t in­clude the trade as­sis­tance pro­vi­sions. It now goes to the Se­nate, where it is ex­pected to pass with the prom­ise that TAA will be ap­proved af­ter­ward. Which brings us back to Pelosi, who is still in­sist­ing that there is no path for TAA in the House. But con­sider this: Pelosi took trade as­sis­tance hostage, against her bet­ter judg­ment, to slow the over­all bill. If the Se­nate passes TPA and TAA sep­a­rately, then Pelosi’s hostage isn’t a hostage any­more. As Rep. Steve Is­rael (D-N.Y.), a key Pelosi ally, said Thurs­day of the pos­si­bil­ity of House Democrats vot­ing against TAA again: “That is the quin­tes­sen­tial cut­ting of our noses to spite our face.”

Nancy Pelosi, for tak­ing a hostage you couldn’t keep, you had the worst week in Washington. Con­grats, or some­thing.

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