How GOP leaders, with President Obama, trounced trade critics

When conservative critics threatened to scuttle the trade deal, GOP leaders stripped them of leadership roles or called the White House for help with Democrats. It was a professional job, done in a bipartisan fashion. This time, the center held. 

Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
House Speaker John Boehner (R) of Ohio speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington on Thursday. The Republican-led Congress completed President Obama's trade package Thursday, overwhelmingly passing a worker training program just weeks after it was stymied.

Drudge calls it Obamatrade. The Huffington Post claims that the Democrats “caved” on trade.

Ted Cruz voted no, at the last second, blaming the Export Import bank. Seems like everything under the sun can be blamed on Ex-Im bank. Maybe Mr. Cruz will link the bank to climate change next.

Brietbart claims that the trade pact includes secret language on immigration. Elizabeth Warren claims that it includes secret language to repeal Dodd-Frank. 

Bernie Sanders hates it. So does Jim DeMint.

Members of the House Freedom Caucus who voted against a procedural motion on trade now have the freedom that comes from not being a subcommittee chairman or part of the whip team. They will have a lot more time on their hands to read Breitbart and Drudge.

Nancy Pelosi and her colleague, Rosa DeLauro, thought they had a clever plan to kill TPA. Instead they just embarrassed themselves and their president.

When it comes to trade, the center held. Again.

Trade agreements are essential for American job creation.

Big business and small business only can grow when we grow markets overseas, because that is where the bulk of the potential customers are. And American businesses compete more efficiently and better when we have common rules of the road with our trading partners.

Despite the clamor from the Left and the Right, this point got across with the bulk of Congress.

This didn’t happen without some turmoil.

It never does.

Ted Cruz and Mike Lee surprised their leadership in dramatic fashion yesterday with their no votes on cloture, but Mitch McConnell quietly phoned the president who produced the necessary yes votes to get to 60.

It was a professional job, done in a bipartisan fashion.

On the House side, conservatives rebelled on a rule vote, but John Boehner and his leadership team were able to call on pro-trade Democrats to help them over the top.

It, too, was a professional operation, done in a bipartisan fashion.

It’s unclear if Mitch McConnell will do anything to punish either Cruz or Lee, although Mr. Lee’s votes against his state are making a primary challenge all the more likely.

Utah is a sophisticated and very business-savvy place. Lee’s tenure in the Senate doesn’t reflect that sophistication. He is an ideologue in a place that values business acumen. He should mind his p’s and q’s.

Speaker Boehner moved swiftly to show his displeasure with the rebels, stripping them of their committee chairmanships and their leadership positions.

There was some grumbling about a coup, but that’s all nonsense. Jim Jordan and his ilk don’t have the votes, don’t have a candidate and don’t have a clue about how to replace John Boehner. He will leave when he is good and ready and not a moment before.

The center held on trade. It will likely hold on Ex-Im bank (despite irrational opposition mounted by the right), highway funding (whenever a pay-for can be found) and perhaps on tax extenders.

Getting trade done wasn’t a sure thing. It is a major accomplishment and it came from the center, not the wings.

John Feehery publishes his Feehery Theory blog at

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