With a vote on “Fast Track” Trade Promotion Authority expected in the Senate on Tuesday, the Obama Administration has been engaged in a “all-hands-on-deck” effort to muster enough votes in both chambers of congress.
But even senior members of the administration seem astonished at the difficulty the president is having in selling the deal.
“I’ve never participated in something like this,” said Penny Pritzker, the secretary of commerce, who has helped lead the lobbying campaign with other cabinet members and White House officials. “It’s an all-hands-on-deck approach,” she said, “and sometimes it’s in the hallway.”
Michael B. Froman, the trade representative, is known to prowl the tunnels underneath the Capitol to buttonhole skeptical Democrats. He has also lobbied them at dinner parties, at the airport and even on a crowded bus in India during a presidential visit there.
Mr. Obama, who normally eschews legislative schmoozing, has made his case in dozens of telephone calls and one-on-one or group meetings with lawmakers.
An open rift has developed between President Obama and legislatures and activists of the Progressive Left, with Senator Elizabeth Warren among those in the crosshairs.
Those tensions have pushed the administration to seek votes one by one. Representative Ami Bera, Democrat of California, narrowly won his swing district in 2012, then ran for re-election in 2014 on a pledge to oppose trade promotion authority. After two rides on Air Force One and a trip to India with the president, Mr. Bera came around.
“The president has asked for my support to negotiate the deal based on the parameters outlined by Congress in T.P.A.,” he said in a statement, using an acronym for trade promotion authority. “I made it clear, however, that my support to give the president the authority to negotiate a trade deal is not the same as giving him my vote or support for the final Trans-Pacific Partnership.”
Representative John Delaney, Democrat of Maryland, also got personal presidential attention — and a promise by Mr. Obama to campaign for him if he sticks with the White House on trade.
I wonder what the constituents of Rep. Bera’s district will think of the two rides on Air Force One.
[NY Time][Photo Credit: Olivier Douliery/Bloomberg]