House leaders have scheduled a final vote Friday on the trade bill, which has pitted many Democrats against their own president.
House Republicans told CNN that GOP leaders announced the vote in a closed door meeting Wednesday. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and House Speaker John Boehner spent the week hashing out final details about how to pay to retrain workers who lose their jobs in the process.
But procedural requirements could stall that timeline.
“Pelosi and Boehner negotiated the new offsets but serious procedural problems remain,” a senior House Democratic aide told CNN. Pelosi informed Boehner that she would discuss the structure of the various trade votes with her members on Wednesday morning, but this aide said, “members were not happy” with having to vote for the fix for the trade adjustment programs as part of a separate trade bill. They want to new provisions to be linked specifically with the main trade promotion authority bill.
Aides on both sides say it’s unclear whether this wrinkle will affect the plan to vote on trade at the end of this week.
“I’m feeling real good,” Rep Paul Ryan told reporters after the weekly meeting with House Republicans.
Ryan said House Republicans are feeling more comfortable with the details of the trade legislation. “I feel like we have an airtight case to make, we’re comfortable, and that’s why we’re proceeding.”
President Barack Obama is seeking so-called fast track power (trade promotion authority) from Congress to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, a sweeping trade measure in the mold of the North American Free Trade Agreement negotiated two decades ago.
The issue has allied typical Democratic constituencies, including labor unions, with conservatives who worry about giving Obama too much power.
The proposal will be presented to both Republican and Democratic members Wednesday morning, and the House Rules Committee plans to meet a few hours later on the bill to set procedure for both the fast-track status for the trade bill and others.
Republican aides believe the vote will be close and expect they will need more than the 17 or 18 House Democrats who are ready to support the measure.