Shortly after House Democrats dealt President Obama's trade agenda an embarrassing blow Friday, Press Secretary Josh Earnest had a decidedly cheerful view of the setback.
"The hardest part has gotten done," Earnest told reporters, asserting that he was "pleased" that the Trade Promotion Authority bill, or fast-track authority, passed in the House.
Less than an hour before, more than 300 House Democrats and Republicans came together to sink Trade Adjustment Assistance, a piece of legislation crucial to the president's trade agenda—and one that's tied to the fate of TPA, which would allow Congress to give a simple up-or-down vote on trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Though TPA passed by a narrow margin immediately afterwards, it still is tied to TAA, which could be put up to another vote next week. Because TAA lost by more than 80 votes Friday, there are no guarantees that a second vote will turn out differently.
Though House rules prevent TPA's passage without TAA, Earnest declined to say directly whether Obama would veto TPA without TAA.
But Earnest said the White House is confident that TAA will pass in a revote. Calling the impediment—specifically, the crafty pairing of the two bills—"the hallmark of a legislative procedural snafu," he said the administration still can make a strong case for passing TAA.