Democrats Defeat Obama and Republicans (for Now)

Not only did Democrats defeat Obama, they defended the Senate’s constitutional powers to approve treaties.

Yes, I know the headline seems crazy. But that is exactly what happened. Obama and Republican leadership in Congress tried to give the President special powers that would bind the hands of the Senate and the Democrats spoiled their plans.

Here’s a Washington Times headline: “Obama after trade deal defeat: This is personal for me.”

Minutes after his former Democratic colleagues in the Senate filibustered his trade deal, President Obama sent a message to supporters declaring the fight was “personal for me” and pleading with liberals to rally around him.

The president has been working with congressional Republicans to try to win fast-track trade powers, which would allow him to more easily negotiate trade agreements such as the Trans Pacific Partnership deal with 11 nations that border the Pacific Ocean.

But Democrats, including dozens who served in the Senate when Mr. Obama was there, have balked at his efforts, questioning whether he has American workers’ interests in mind. On Tuesday, they rallied to filibuster the fast-track bill, derailing it.

“This is personal for me. I understand the skepticism about this, or any, trade deal. I’ve met folks across the country who still feel burned by agreements of the past. Those are the people I came to Washington to fight for,” the president said in an email sent out by his campaign team, vowing that he wouldn’t repeat the mistakes of past trade deals in his negotiations.

The White House insisted Tuesday’s filibuster defeat was a “procedural snafu,” and wouldn’t be fatal to the trade deal in the end.

Sadly, that last bit may be true.

[See also, “Mitch McConnell ‘Working Closely with the White House.’]

But we can hope that the Democrats stand firm and don’t let Obama sway them. My fear is that the Republicans will try to start a spending spree of earmarks to bribe enough Democrats to change their votes.