Boehner: We don’t have votes yet on trade

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Wednesday said he’s hopeful the House will pass legislation this month granting President Obama fast-track trade powers, but said the votes aren’t there yet.

“I don’t think we’re quite there yet,” Boehner said in an interview on Fox News Radio’s “Kilmeade & Friends.”

{mosads}“But over the next couple weeks, we hope to get this bill on the floor and get it passed. It’s an important priority for the country,” he said.

Boehner acknowledged some in his party are opposing the fast-track legislation, known as Trade Promotion Authority or TPA, simply because they don’t trust Obama.

But the Speaker added: “This is not about the president; frankly, it’s about the country. It’s why I’ve worked with the president on a number of trade agreements over the course of his tenure and my tenure as Speaker,” including deals with Panama and South Korea.

Last month, the Senate passed TPA on a 62 to 37 vote. But the bill is facing a steeper climb in the House, where most Democrats are fiercely opposed. The bill would allow Obama to send to Congress the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a major trade deal among 12 Pacific Rim nations, for an up-or-down vote. Under the fast-track rules, lawmakers would not be able to amend the trade deal.

Republicans proponents of TPA estimate they will need about 190 GOP votes, leaving Obama to bring along roughly 30 Democratic votes to get the bill across the finish line.

Obama recently told Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) he thought he had secured 20 Democratic votes for TPA.

Later Wednesday, Boehner and his entire leadership team hosted a 20-minute pep rally in the basement of the Capitol with more than 200 pro-trade allies, including representatives from trade associations, the agriculture and shipping industries, and manufacturers.

“Let’s get it done!” the Speaker told attendees.

Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) emceed the meeting. And both Scalise and Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) asked attendees to contact local and national business leaders and have them urge House lawmakers to back the bill, attendees said.

“It was mainly an effort to get this piece of legislation across the finish line,” said one attendee. “They wanted to underscore the importance of passing TPA.”

In an interview with The Hill, House GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) said the pro-trade gathering was part of “the push to the finish.”

“It’s about encouraging the coalition to make sure they are calling and making the case district by district and in this country as to the positive impact of trade on our economy as well as our national security,” she said.

This story was updated at 5:01 p.m. 

Tags Boehner Cathy McMorris Rodgers John Boehner Paul Ryan
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