Passage of the Pacific Rim Trade Pact

Congress handed President Obama a major victory on the Pacific Rim Trade Pact this week. The Senate had combined Fast Track Authority and the displaced workers assistance into one bill. As we show in our previous post Fast Track Authority passed the House 219 Yea – 211 Nay but the displaced workers assistance was defeated 128 Yea – 300 Nay. The House then brought up a stand-alone bill granting the President Fast Track Authority last week and it passed. We use our Weekly Constant-Space DW-NOMINATE Scores to do the vote plots. The House vote to approve FTA is shown below:

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The vote was 218 Yea – 208 Nay (the missing “Yea” in the plot is Speaker Boehner who has not voted enough time to be scaled). The Republicans split 190 Yea to 50 Nay and the Democrats split 28 Yea to 158 Nay.

The Senate took up the Fast Track Authority bill on Thursday, 24 June 2015, and passed it 60 Yea to 38 Nay after a cloture motion passed on Wednesday, 23 June 2015, 60 Yea to 37 Nay. The final passage of FTA in the Senate is shown below:

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The five Republicans who voted Nay were Collins (R-ME), Cruz (R-TX), Paul (R-KY), Sessions (R-AL), and Shelby (R-AL). Collins, Paul, Sessions, and Shelby all voted Nay on 22 May 2015 against the combination of FTA and the displaced workers assistance bill. Cruz had voted Yea but switched his vote Nay this time. Lee (R-UT) voted against the combined bill on 22 May but did not vote on the stand-alone FTA. FTA was then sent to President Obama.

With the Fast Track Authority having cleared both chambers it was relatively easy to pass the displaced workers assistance. It passed in the Senate on Wednesday 24 June 2015 by a vote of 76 Yea to 22 Nay. This vote is shown below:

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In the House the displaced workers assistance bill passed by a wide majority 286 Yea to 128 Nay. This time The Democrats voted for the bill 175 Yea to only 6 Nay in contrast to the vote on 12 June 2015 where they voted against the assistance portion of the combined bill 40 Yea to 144 Nay despite an appeal from President Obama for their support. The final passage vote is shown below:

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The six Democrats who voted Nay were Boyle (D-PA), Cartwright (D-PA), Grijalva (D-AZ), Lynch (D-MA), and Thompson (D-MS).

President Obama’s major victory was made possible by Republican leaders in Congress standing with him and using deft legislative maneuvers to get the FTA and assistance packages through Congress. President Obama may be in his last 18 months as President but he is far from a lame duck.

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