April 28, 2015

ROLL CALL: Trade Fight Galvanizing the Left.

With the first round of appropriations bills and a possible budget conference report on the House floor this week, the chamber’s progressive contingent is looking farther down the road at the storm brewing over so-called Trade Promotion Authority, or “fast track.”

Legislation allowing President Barack Obama to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement would ordinarily be divisive within the House Democratic Caucus, but progressives say there’s even more at stake in this most recent fight: 2016.

If they can’t stop the TPA bill, the nearly 70 voting House members in the Congressional Progressive Caucus are determined to make such a ruckus that the party’s 2016 candidates — presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton in particular — realize Obama’s middle-of-the-road approach to trade, or any major policy area, is not acceptable.

“I think if we were to keep fast track from happening here, then the message is pretty clear to the national campaigns, Hillary’s in particular, that this is an issue that’s going to energize the base,” said CPC Co-Chairman Raúl M. Grijalva, D-Ariz.

“I think it kind of sets a tone nationally,” Grijalva said, “My point being, if the vast majority of the Democrats in the House are willing to confront their president, it only makes sense that any candidate for that position is on the line.”

Every candidate should be asked.

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