The good news for trade supporters is that House Republicans just bought themselves more time to complete their agenda. The bad news is they still don't know what to do with it.
The House punted on a stalled trade deal Monday, leaving President Obama's key domestic-policy priority unresolved, just days after the chamber shot down a key piece of the deal.
The House Rules Committee approved a rule—which still must be passed by the full chamber—allowing the House until July 30 to reconsider Trade Adjustment Assistance, an aid and job-training program that failed last week when anti-trade Democrats voted with Republicans who do not like government aid programs to reject it. The measure is seen as a crucial component to passing Trade Promotion Authority, a fast-track mechanism that would grease the wheels for Congress to pass the sweeping, secretive Pacific Rim trade deal later this year.
House Speaker John Boehner spoke with Obama by phone Monday, although neither office revealed details of the call. Nevertheless, it is clear that Boehner and his leadership team want the administration to work harder to draw Democrats to the table.
"We remain committed to getting TPA done, and this will give the president more time to communicate the consequences of not moving forward with his party," said Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith.