Republican leaders are not holding out hope that Democrats will change course and unite behind President Obama's trade proposals, which may force them to plot the next play without them.
After a mere 40 Democrats voted Friday for Trade Adjustment Assistance—legislation that gives benefits to workers displaced by future trade deals—Republicans watched with surprise as the typically disciplined Democratic Party at least temporarily sank Trade Promotion Authority, a key agenda item for the Obama administration which would limit Congress to an up-or-down vote on trade deals.
"It is almost like a civil war within the Democratic Party," House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said during a pen-and-pad with reporters Monday.
Now, the entire 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal's future is in limbo, with GOP leaders unsure of whether it will even be possible to salvage the TAA if Democrats continue to block it. McCarthy said over the weekend he had received no indication that a watershed number of Democrats were now ready to vote to pass TAA. As it stands now, leadership has no plan of when or if they will bring it back up.
"It could be the case where it had to fail before it could pass. Or it could be you overplayed your hand, you failed, and it might not be there again," McCarthy said.