Democrats Not the Only Fast Track Opponents

As the Senate prepares to begin formal on Trade Promotion Authority (“fast-track”) tonight, after the measure rose from the prematurely-declared dead, it’s worth noting that even in the Senate, and definitely beyond it, GOP support is hardly monolithic. Rand Paul has already announced he’ll vote against TPA (though he did vote with the GOP leadership on the motion-to-proceed that failed earlier this week). The other Senators who are running for president will likely support TPA (if they are in town!). But it’s a different scene outside Washington.

Mike Huckabee is making opposition to fast-track (and implicitly, though not yet explicitly, the Trans-Pacific Partnership) a regular theme in his early campaign stops. He’s not alone in taking that position, according to a handy roundup of the presidentials by David Drucker. Chris Christie and Bobby Jindal are opposed to TPA on pure anti-Obama grounds: a refusal to give this president any kind of enhanced negotiating authority on any subject. Carly Fiorina is ambivalent on TPA, and Scott Walker joins Hillary Clinton in the ranks of those who have managed not to say much of anything.

All this again helps explain why TPP opponents have decided to make TPA their line in the sand. One reason is that TPA gets rid of the filibuster as a weapon against TPP. But the other reason is that any Republican can get away with voting against fast-track as an anti-Obama measure and still tell the business lobbyists they are pro-trade. This could matter a great deal when the measure is taken up in the House.

UPDATE: HuffPost’s Baron-Lopez, Grim and Rifkin report John Boehner expects to lose 50 Republican votes on TPA, but the number right now may be quite a bit higher than that.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.