Ryan: Pelosi gave me a scare in trade fight

Ryan: Pelosi gave me a scare in trade fight

Rep. Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanBiden's debate game plan? Keep cool and win Trump, Biden have one debate goal: Don't lose RNC chair on election: We are on track to win the White House MORE (R-Wis.) said there was only one moment in the months-long trade debate when he thought the package of legislation might be in trouble.

The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, who co-authored the fast-track trade authority that cleared Congress, said a decision by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to vote against a Democrat-backed worker aid program provided him the only scare.


Ryan said he had no idea Pelosi would oppose Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) — a program that helps workers who have lost their jobs to foreign competition — opening up a brief 20-minute window of panic that forced Republicans and pro-trade Democrats to scramble and find a new path forward.

“When she came out against TAA, something they insisted has to be a part of this, and tried to sink the bill, that’s when I realized this was in trouble,” Ryan said at Politico event on Thursday.

Her decision led Ryan to quickly huddle on the floor with Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and then ask Democratic Rep. Ron KindRonald (Ron) James KindWisconsin Rep. Ron Kind wins primary Democrats exit briefing saying they fear elections under foreign threat Bottom line MORE (Wis.) for his support on a fast-track test vote that “proved we had the votes.”

“I think because we did that it gave us the ability to come back and separate the two issues so they couldn’t try and play the sabotage game,” he said.

House Republicans split up the combined fast-track and TAA bill passed by the Senate, instead choosing to vote separately but still tying them together — one could not move forward without the other.

“Once we passed it, I realized we could find a way to this done,” Ryan said.

With the fact-track fight now over, the Obama administration is resuming work on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a vast agreement with the United States and 11 other nations that negotiators are aiming to finish by the end of the month at a trade meeting in Hawaii.

Ryan said a realistic time to see the massive Asia-Pacific agreement on Capitol Hill would be late fall.

The TPP can pass Congress “if they negotiate a very good deal,” Ryan said.

Turning back to the fight over the fast-track package, Ryan said he always thought that Congress would get the bill done.

“I always thought that failure was just not an option,” he said.

“If we had failed to do this then we would have said that both political parties have decided that America is not going to engage in the global economy, that America has chosen not to lead in this forming of the 21st century global economy.”