In a stinging rebuke to President Obama’s broad trade proposal, the House today rejected a key provision of the Trans Pacific Partnership bill, by a resounding 302-126 vote.
The pivotal vote came on a portion of the legislation to renew federal aid for workers who lose their jobs through imports.
That is normally a Democratic priority, but in this case, rank and file party members saw its defeat as a way to scuttle the entire legislation. As a result, only 40 Democrats voted for it, and 144 were opposed. Republicans broke 158-86 against it.
Fast track authority, another controversial proposal, narrowly prevailed in a separate vote.
A second roll call followed on the trade negotiating powers themselves, and the House approved that measure, 219-211. But under the rules in effect, the overall legislation, previously approved by the Senate, could not advance to the White House unless both halves were agreed to.
The bill will be back Tuesday for another vote. The Senate version also failed a preliminary vote before its ultimate approval. But there’s a big hill to climb.