Updated 5:53 pm ET
President Obama was dealt a devastating blow by his own Party Tuesday as a motion to move the fast track trade bill to the Senate floor for final consideration failed by eight votes, garnering only 52 of the 60 votes needed to end debate.
Forty five senators backed the motion, including only one Democrat. All other Democrats voted against.
Fast track is needed not only to allow consideration go Obama’s Trans-Pacific trade agreement, but to enable negotiators to complete the agreement itself. Our trading partners have indicated they will not sign a deal unless fast track, which would prevent Congress from changing the provisions, is passed by Congress.
I can’t remember ever seeing a president so thoroughly rejected by his own Party on a major portion of his agenda.
Obama is a man for whom the essence of democratic – small “d” – politics is alien: building relationships, negotiating, bargaining, and so forth. He does not have strong ties to lawmakers on either side of the aisle. He is close to his inner circle, and that’s pretty much it.
The president was even tone deaf enough to get himself accused of sexism for singling out Elizabeth Warren.
“The truth of the matter is that Elizabeth is, you know, a politician like everybody else,” Obama said.
“Yes, I think it is sexist. I think the president was trying to build up his own trustworthiness on this issue by convincing us that Sen. Warren’s concerns are not to be taken seriously,” said National Organization for Women President Terry O’Neill in The Hill. “But he did it in a sexist way, saying, ‘The truth of the matter is, Elizabeth is a politician like everybody else . . . I think it was disrespectful.”
Nice to see a leader of the bias grievance crowd getting a bit of their own medicine.
Obama doesn’t particularly care about Congress, not compared to the other two president’s I’ve covered. Senators in the past haven’t even been aware of who Obama’s chief White House legislative liaison is.
The Senate was supposed to be easier to get this bill through than the House. The White House will keep trying, with another vote likely next month. If Obama caves to Democratic demands for changes, he’ll lose Republicans. And they, of course, like him even less.
UPDATE: After coming under heavy criticism for rebuking the president, Democrats have agreed to stage another vote.