White House escalates Warren feud

White House escalates Warren feud
© Greg Nash

The White House on Monday amplified its criticism of Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenBiden: 'I'd add' Warren to my list of potential VP picks Warren says she made almost M from legal work over past three decades How can top Democrats run the economy with no business skill? MORE (D-Mass.), accusing her of spreading false information about President Obama’s trade agenda.

“There is no need for this false criticism that members of Congress aren’t aware of what’s being negotiated,” press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday.

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The president has singled out Warren, an outspoken critic of his trade push, ahead of an important test vote in the Senate on a bill to give Obama fast-track authority to finalize a sweeping trade deal with 11 Asia-Pacific nations.

Obama over the weekend suggested Warren was attacking the trade deal for political reasons.

“The truth of the matter is that Elizabeth is, you know, a politician like everybody else. And, you know, she’s got a voice that she wants to get out there. And I understand that,” Obama said, according to Yahoo. News.
 
“On most issues, she and I deeply agree. On this one, though, her arguments don’t stand the test of fact and scrutiny.”
 
Warren fired back that he should make the trade agreement public, and accused him of hiding unsavory provisions in the deal.

“If the president is so confident it’s a good deal, he should declassify the text and let people see it before asking Congress to tie its hands on fixing it,” she said.

Earnest said Warren and other lawmakers are able to read the current text of the trade agreement in a secure viewing area in the Capitol building.

“If they are not aware of what’s being negotiated, it’s because they have failed to take responsibility for reading the document that we provided to them,” he said.

The White House is seeking to counter Warren’s influence as it works to build Democratic support for a trade promotion authority bill (TPA) that would allow the administration to negotiate trade deals without Congress making amendments.

The White House says the fast-track power is necessary for the president to have a free hand in negotiating the trade pact with other nations.

Liberal Democrats and labor unions are fighting hard against the legislation out of concern that the trade deals could ship American jobs overseas.

The TPA bill faces a major procedural vote in the Senate on Tuesday. Most Senate Republicans are expected to back the measure, but they will need help from Democrats to get the 60 votes necessary to move forward.

Obama and top administration officials have been lobbying Democratic lawmakers to support the trade powers.

Earnest said Obama’s conversations with lawmakers, mostly with Democrats but some Republicans, have “yielded us some votes,” but declined to say how many.

He also put the onus on Republicans to maximize the number of votes from their side of the aisle.

“What’s important is for Democrats and Republicans to have the votes,” he said. “This is something that’s not going to pass on party lines.”

Earnest dismissed the notion that Obama’s blunt criticism of Warren may have alienated potential Democratic supporters on trade.

He said the White House would continue to make its case to members of Congress “right up until the vote, and we’re not going to take any of those votes for granted.”

While Obama has been in "frequent" contact with lawmakers on the trade deal, Earnest was not aware of any conversation he had with Warren in recent weeks, though he added "I wouldn't rule it out."