Voting on the Pacific Rim Trade Pact

President Obama’s effort to secure “Fast Track” authority to finish the negotiations on the Pacific Rim Trade Pact appears to be in serious jeopardy after the displaced Workers Aid portion of the bill was defeated by a vote of 126-302. The Senate passed a bill on May 22nd that coupled fast track with the displaced workers aid. We use our Weekly Constant-Space DW-NOMINATE Scores to do the vote plots. The Senate vote is shown below:

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Five Republicans voted against the bill — Collins (ME), Lee (UT), Paul (KY), Sessions (AL), and Shelby (AL). The blue “R” furthest to the right is actually Lee and Paul because they have essentially identical coordinates — (0.925, -0.159) and (0.927, -0.156), respectively. The blue “R” furthest to the left is Collins. Getting the 62 votes to pass the trade bill was a heavy lift for McConnell and President Obama. Any changes in the bill in the House would likely mean its defeat in the Senate.

The bill unraveled in the House where there were separate votes on the displaced workers aid portion and the fast track portion. The displaced workers aid went down by a lopsided 126-302 vote:

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(The two missing “Nay” votes are Speaker Boehner (who has not voted enough times for coordinates to be estimated) and Trent Kelly (R-MS) who was just elected to replace Alan Nunnelee (R-MS) who died of brain cancer in February.) The cutting line actually produces more errors — 136 — than “Yea” votes — 126. In CS DW-NOMINATE we only constrain roll call midpoints to be within the unit circle in two dimensions (technically, an ellipse because we use a weighted Euclidean metric).

Neither Political Party was happy with the bill and this is reflected in the lopsided defeat of the workers aid portion. Many Democrats believe that the Trade Deals of the past 25 years have worsened income inequality as jobs moved overseas. How much free trade has contributed to income inequality is not clear but there is no denying the steep increase in inequality since 1970:

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As Emmanuel Saez shows the rich have done well since the Clinton years. Here is his Table 1:

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After the defeat of the displace workers aid package the House then voted on the Fast track portion of the bill. This passed by a vote of 219 – 211:

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(The two missing “Yea” votes are Speaker Boehner and Trent Kelly.) Although the PRE is a respectable 0.62 ((211-81)/211) there was substantial opposition within each Party to the respective majority positions.

Speaker Boehner and President Obama are now faced with the prospect of finding the votes to get the displaced workers aid passed on Tuesday or the whole trade bill will be dead.

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