Speed Reads

pass that buck

How Obama's trade bill tore Senate Democrats apart

For all the criticism House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has gotten for not being able to control his Republican caucus, it seems President Obama has a Democratic revolt of his own on his hands. Senate Democrats voted down the president's fast-track trade bill Tuesday, delivering a stinging blow to Obama's second-term trade agenda. The bill would have granted the president permission to expedite the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade accord by requiring only a simple majority vote to push it through Congress.

Worse than the simple setback of the no vote, however, is the behind-closed-doors commentary from Senate Democrats. While the bill originally seemed to be an easy win for the president, "mounting tensions" within the Democrats turned lawmakers against each other. Politico has the details:

"It laid bare the growing rift between Democrats who believed Obama went too far in picking a fight with the liberal icon Elizabeth Warren — and others in the Senate Democratic Caucus who are frustrated with the freshman senator's uncompromising approach on trade and other issues. 'Who do they think they are?' said one Democratic senator, angry at at the role Warren (D-Mass.) and other liberals have played in seeking to scuttle the White House's approach." [Politico]

Last week, President Obama said Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), noted for her staunchly progressive views, was "absolutely wrong" in her opposition to the trade accord. But even Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who was an original author of the proposal, ended up siding with Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in the opposition, apparently refusing to push it through unless Republicans agreed to move on other Democratic proposals. This reportedly "infuriated" some GOP senators who felt he was changing the stakes of the vote at the last minute.

In the end, only one Democratic senator voted for the fast-track bill — but everyone has found someone to blame. "The level of aggressiveness [from the White House] is unprecedented," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.). Read more on the bubbling tensions at Politico.