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