GOP to hold trade vote Friday

Francis Rivera

The House will vote Friday on giving President Obama fast-track trade authority, which would allow him to send a major trade deal with 11 other Pacific Rim nations to Congress for an up-or-down vote.

GOP leaders announced the decision at a Wednesday morning meeting with their conference. 

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"We're moving because we feel comfortable moving," Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul RyanPaul Ryan GOP lawmakers give Trump bad reviews on debate performance Team Trump: Debate won’t move needle in race for White House GOP rebuffs call to uphold Obama veto MORE (R-Wis.) said Wednesday.

Leaders late last night began putting the gears in motion to give them the option of taking up Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) by the end of the week.

The Rules Committee late Tuesday night posted TPA and three related trade bills on its website, where they can be read by the public. The influential panel, which decides how bills are brought to the floor, will take up the trade package at 3 p.m. Wednesday.

The legislation also reflects a deal by Speaker John BoehnerJohn BoehnerRepublican Study Committee elders back Harris for chairman Dems to GOP: Help us fix ObamaCare The disorderly order of presidential succession MORE (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to resolve some outstanding issues over offsets for Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA). The pair huddled in the Capitol on Tuesday.

As part of the agreement, Republicans agreed to scrap the Medicare sequester offset, which Democrats objected to.

New offsets would find savings from cracking down on fraudulent claims against tax credits used for higher education and increasing penalties on businesses that fail to file correct 1099 information returns.

“There is more work to be done, but this is progress,” said a House GOP leadership aide.

Leaders have had ample time to explain the bill and answer questions, and lawmakers have had opportunities to read the text of the Pacific trade pact and hear from constituents back home, Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) said.

“There has been a process that has been allowed to play out properly,” he said. “We didn’t surprise anybody. People have studied it.”

Ryan and other TPA backers have said they’ve been adding to their vote totals on a daily basis. But there’s also a concern among leadership that the longer the bill languishes, the greater chance there is for the momentum to shift.

“We’re letting natural rhythm take place, and natural rhythm is good — until it gets where it’s not natural,” Sessions said.

Earlier this week, there were worries a potential trade vote could be held up by negotiations over changing the offset for TAA, a top priority for Democrats which will be considered in tandem with fast-track.

Rep. Gerry ConnollyGerry ConnollySetting the record straight on Crimea Overnight Cybersecurity: Fallout from Yahoo's massive breach | House panel holds Clinton IT aide in contempt | Privacy groups want WhatsApp probe Oversight Committee votes to hold Clinton IT aide in contempt of Congress MORE (D-Va.) told The Hill on Tuesday that he had concerns about the offset that would dip into Medicare funding down the road. But he said BoehnerJohn BoehnerRepublican Study Committee elders back Harris for chairman Dems to GOP: Help us fix ObamaCare The disorderly order of presidential succession MORE and Pelosi were working on a solution to pay for the $450 million program.

Ryan told reporters Tuesday that he remained confident that the momentum was building in fast-track proponents' favor.

“We're doing very well,” he said. “We're close.”

— Vicki Needham and Cristina Marcos contributed to this report, which was first posted on June 9 and has been updated.