This week: Can Obama's trade agenda be saved?
© Hill file photo

President Obama’s trade agenda hangs in the balance this week as Congress and the White House scramble to save it.

The House is expected to vote this week again on legislation granting aid to workers displaced by trade, known as Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA).

The lower chamber dealt the president a humiliating blow last Friday when Democrats refused to support TAA and, along with 158 Republicans, helped tank the bill.


But the House did pass a measure giving the president Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), also known as fast-track, as the Obama administration works toward sealing negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

However, the entire package as it stands cannot be sent to President Obama’s desk until the House finds a way forward on TAA.

Defense authorization

Senators will continue to work toward passing the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), months earlier than in recent years. 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate Democrats hold talkathon to protest Barrett's Supreme Court nomination Trump looms over Ernst's tough reelection fight in Iowa Democratic senator votes against advancing Amy Coney Barrett nomination while wearing RBG mask MORE (R-Ky.) filed cloture on the bill Thursday before the chamber wrapped up its work for the week, meaning the Senate could take a procedural vote on moving forward with the legislation as early as Tuesday. 

Senate Democrats have criticized the legislation because of an extra $38 billion in war funding meant to ease the budget caps under sequestration for the Defense Department, but leadership has remained tightlipped over whether or not they will block the bill. 

Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMark Kelly releases Spanish ad featuring Rep. Gallego More than 300 military family members endorse Biden Jennifer Lawrence says until Trump she was 'a little Republican' MORE (R-Ariz.), the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, told reporters last week that he and Sen. Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedSenate Democrats hold talkathon to protest Barrett's Supreme Court nomination Overnight Defense: Armed Services chairman unsold on slashing defense budget | Democratic Senate report details 'damage, chaos' of Trump foreign policy | Administration approves .8B Taiwan arms sales Overnight Defense: Famed Navy SEAL calls Trump out | Yemen's Houthi rebels free two Americans | Marines fire commander after deadly training accident MORE (D-R.I.) would continue to work to get additional amendments to the legislation. 

But the votes could be for naught, with the White House threatening to the veto bill. 

Senate Democrats warn that the fight over war funding is a precursor for a larger battle over government spending. They, and the Obama administration, argue that any increase in defense spending should be matched by an increase in non-defense spending. 

The first battle in the spending war could come this week, with McConnell pledging to bring up the defense appropriations bill after the Senate finishes up NDAA. 

War against ISIS

The House may vote this week on a resolution that would direct the president to remove U.S. forces from Iraq and Syria who were deployed after August 2014 to combat Islamic State militants.

Rep. Jim McGovern’s (D-Mass.) resolution would force President Obama to remove the U.S. military personnel fighting ISIS within 30 days. But if the president determined it wasn’t safe to remove the U.S. forces within that timeframe, the deadline would be extended to Dec. 31.

"Either Congress needs to live up to its responsibilities and authorize this war, or by its continuing neglect and indifference, our troops should be withdrawn and come home," McGovern said on the House floor upon introducing the measure.

Last week, the House rejected an amendment to the annual defense spending bill that would require the House to vote on a formal authorization of military force against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. 

The White House also announced last week that the president authorized deploying up to 450 more American troops to Iraq to train and assist Iraqi forces fighting ISIS. 


House GOP leaders will bring a package of bills to the floor to reform the healthcare system as the Supreme Court weighs whether people in all states are eligible for federal tax subsidies through ObamaCare. The court is expected to issue a ruling later this month that could throw a wrench into the healthcare law.

Republicans have come under criticism for not having a comprehensive healthcare replacement plan ready if the Supreme Court does rule in their favor and strike down ObamaCare subsidies.

The measures slated for the floor include repealing the medical device tax, eliminating the Independent Payment Advisory Board, and preventing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services from terminating Medicare Advantage contracts that do not have minimum quality ratings.

Below is a day-by-day breakdown of the week ahead:


The House will convene at noon for morning hour debate and 2 p.m. for legislative business. Votes on noncontroversial bills under suspension of the rules, including measures to name post offices and call on Iran to release three U.S. citizens in its custody, will be postponed until 6:30 p.m.

The Senate is expected to convene at 2 p.m. on Monday for leader remarks and morning business, with debate on the defense policy bill expected to kick off around 3 p.m. 

Senators will vote at 5:30 p.m. on Matthew McGuire's nomination to be the executive director of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and Gentry Smith's nomination to be the director of the Office of Foreign Missions, which would give him the rank of ambassador. 


Under Senate rules, senators are expected to take a procedural vote on the National Defense Authorization Act. The Senate will also likely recess from 12:30 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. for weekly policy lunches. 

The House will vote on the 2016 intelligence policy authorization. In addition, the motion to reconsider the TAA vote as part of the trade package will expire Tuesday. But GOP leaders can move to postpone its reconsideration to later in the week.


The Senate is expected to still be considering the defense authorization.

The House will vote on its package of healthcare reform bills. 


The Senate may finish work on the NDAA, and possibly try to take up defense appropriations before adjourning for the week.

If it has not already done so earlier in the week, the House will likely vote on trade as well as the resolution directing the president to remove troops from Iraq and Syria.