The U.S. House derailed President Obama’s trade bill on Friday. The chamber rejected an amendment designed to save the trade bill 302-126. That measure would have granted financial aid to workers displaced as a result of the trade agreement. However, skeptical members of both parties struck down that amendment, leaving Obama’s controversial trade bill “stuck at the station”, according to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Despite a last minute appeal from President Obama, Pelosi stood firm by bucking the President and many members of the House Republican leadership, to oppose the trade bill. She was joined by 143 other Democrats in fighting the measure on behalf of the American worker. 158 Republicans also voted NO for a variety of reasons, handing Pelosi a rare victory in the GOP dominated U.S. House.
Shortly before voting down the bill, Pelosi stated:
I will be voting to slow down fast-track. Today we have an opportunity to slow down. Whatever the deal is with other countries, we want a better deal for American workers.
The House vote struck a blow to President Obama’s trade agenda. Divisions within both major parties created an unusual split where Republicans and Democrats united in unfamiliar coalitions on both sides of the vote. While much will be made in the media about the rift between Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama on this particular vote, the more important story may be that the American worker and organized labor scored a victory with the U.S. House vote on Friday.
While American workers have long been suspicious of trade deals that are written to benefit multinational corporations at the expense of workers, Congress has typically been friendly to those pro-corporate trade deals on both sides of the aisle. Friday’s dramatic vote may represent a paradigm shift in the way members of Congress view trade deals sought by the president.
For a brief shining moment at least, it appears that members of Congress from both parties did what they were sent to Washington D.C. to do — represent their constituents, the American workers. Enjoy the moment while it lasts, because it may be a long time before the House represents the American worker again.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.