Ryan seeks to rally GOP on fast-track

Ryan seeks to rally GOP on fast-track
© Greg Nash

Rep. Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanRevising the pardon power — let the Speaker and Congress have voices Paul Ryan will attend Biden's inauguration COVID-19 relief bill: A promising first act for immigration reform MORE (R-Wis.) is rallying Republicans around fast-track authority. 

Ryan, the chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, spent Thursday morning courting his party for votes before heading out of town for the Memorial Day recess. 


Following the meeting, Rep. Kevin BradyKevin Patrick BradyGrowing number of lawmakers test positive for COVID-19 after Capitol siege Overnight Health Care: US sets record for daily COVID-19 deaths with over 3,800 | Hospitals say vaccinations should be moving faster | Brazilian health officials say Chinese COVID vaccine 78 percent effective The Hill's Morning Report - A dark day as Trump embraces 'special' rioters MORE (R-Texas), a member of the Ways and Means Committee, said he expects his party will deliver enough votes to pass the legislation.

“It will be a very strong vote from Republicans,” Brady told The Hill.  

He said much of Thursday’s discussion centered on clarifying how the fast-track process works and what is included in the sweeping Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal under negotiation.

Fast-track would allow President Obama to send the TPP to Congress for an up-or-down vote. Lawmakers would also not be able to amend the trade pact if fast-track is approved.

Obama faces a tall order in winning approval for fast-track in the House, given opposition in both parties.

While he must win over more Democrats, GOP leaders are seeking to limit Republican defections.

“Our challenge is, we’re working really hard to max out our support,” Brady said. “It’s really critical that the president deliver votes.”

Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio), chairman of the Ways and Means Trade subcommittee, said the numbers of supporters is growing.

“I think we’re progressing,” he told The Hill. 

“I think we’re gaining on the vote count,” added Rep. Charles Boustany Jr. (R-La.), another member of the Ways and Means panel.

Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.), who supports fast-track, said Ryan firmed up Republican support during the meeting and “turned some of the wavering people our way.”

Yet some Republicans are still concerned that they would be ceding too much power to Obama, a point Ryan and his colleagues have spent months trying to counter. 

Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) said they have serious questions about the voting process, and they plan to offer an amendment that would make it easier for Congress to revoke fast-track. 

Jordan also expressed concern about an idea being floated that would allow for two separate votes — one on fast-track and the other on Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), a top priority for Democrats — and then merge the bill back together. 

TAA would give assistance to workers who lose their jobs because of increased trade.

Republican leaders might try to prevent amendments from being offered.

“The indication I'm getting from leadership is suggesting there is not going to be an open amendment process,” said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), who is undecided on the bill.

“What was reiterated [in the meeting] was keeping the deal simple and pure,” he added.

— Scott Wong contributed.