In a concession that Democrats no longer have a chance to stop President Obama's trade agenda, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi told her caucus Wednesday morning that she will back Trade Adjustment Assistance, a workers' aid bill that had been blocked by Democrats to hold up the package.
"While we may not all vote in the same manner on TAA, I will support its passage because it can open the door to a full debate on [the Trans-Pacific Partnership]," she said in a letter to House Democrats.
Pelosi's announcement comes less than two weeks after she helped derail a larger trade package by opposing that bill, and a day after the Senate passed another piece of that package to which many Democrats have strong objections.
House Democrats voted overwhelmingly this month to block TAA because it was linked to Trade Promotion Authority — also known as fast-track — which most in the caucus oppose. In response, GOP leaders separated the bills and asked pro-trade Democrats to trust them that TAA would quickly get a vote once TPA moved through Congress (TAA has traditionally passed with mostly Democratic votes, and most members who opposed it the first time did so as a tactic to block TPA).
Pelosi's statement is a concession that Republicans' strategy worked. With TPA passing the House and its Senate passage imminent, its opponents' only hope was that Obama would keep his pledge not to sign it without TAA. But already the White House has signaled he will give it swift approval, knowing that doing so removes any reason for Democrats to continue opposing TAA.