The entire trade saga has been an odd one, Boehner acknowledged to reporters Thursday, as he was asked whether he and Obama had learned anything from the process that could be applied to future negotiations.
"I would describe most of what's gone on in the last three weeks as close to bizarre," Boehner said. "I don't think I've learned anything from it."
Boehner also dismissed a question suggesting he and Obama "haven't been very close."
"No, that's just not fair," Boehner said. "The president and I, while we may have our policy disagreements, the president and I have enjoyed a very good working relationship, and frankly, there's never been any kind of an issue."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, meanwhile, said she was skeptical both TPA and TAA could get to Obama's desk.
"I can't predict that. I don't see a path right now for TAA," she said.
But after the TPA vote, one of Pelosi's top allies was urging members to support the new TAA package. "No holds barred. Whatever needs to be done to pass TAA must be done," Rep. Steve Israel said. "I cannot imagine many of my Democratic colleagues, knowing that TPA will pass, voting against TAA. That is the quintessential cutting of our noses to spite our face."
Uncertainty loomed before Thursday's vote, as pro-trade Democrats said they had concerns about the Republican plan to attach TAA to a separate bill in the near future. Prior to an Wednesday evening meeting at the White House to discuss the plan, several pro-trade Democrats were still unsure how they would vote.
"For anyone to tell you that they know the strategy, they don't," Rep. Mike Quigley said. "I'm not for trade authority without trade assistance. The plan is to get both. How you get there can sometimes be a little difficult. ... Am I convinced? We haven't even had some of these discussions."
Rep. John Delaney also harbored doubts about the plan, though he's still "cautiously optimistic" tthat it could work. "We all want to see this come together, where we have TPA and TAA," he said. "If I see that there's a path for that happening that is reasonable and obtainable to me, then I think it's a good strategy and I'll support it."
By Thursday morning, there were at least a few signs of confidence. "My prediction is that we are going to pass TPA today," Rep. Henry Cuellar said. "The pro-trade Democrats who voted on this, as far as I know, it's a strong majority. Hopefully all of us will hold."
Cuellar said Obama indicated to his House allies Wednesday that Senate Democrats would be on board with the new plan. "We all believe that passing TPA is tremendously important," Rep. Gregory Meeks said. "We voted for it already, and we'll vote for it again. ... My feeling was that just as the 28 Dems on the House side were going to stay together, that was giving [Senate Democrats]—and I hope it continues to give them—the assurance that they were going to stay together also."