"I just think it's a new day for our country," Sen. Sherrod Brown deadpanned Thursday to a room full of reporters gathered to hear him and Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., discuss their reservations with trade promotion authority legislation cruising toward the Senate floor.
The Ohio Democrat, a critic of the trade measure passed out of the Senate Finance Committee Wednesday evening, set aside his policy critique for a moment to sarcastically marvel at how Republicans were now fighting for their long-time nemesis, President Barack Obama, to be given expedited authority to negotiate trade deals, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The pact is a priority for the White House and most congressional Republicans. But it has drawn strife from many Democrats, particularly those from states hit hard by manufacturing losses, such as Ohio and Pennsylvania.
Even as Brown and Casey were outlining their position, evidence of the "new day" was showing up across the Rotunda. The House Ways and Means Committee was marking up its own version of the TPA bill. The panel's chairman, Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, found himself in Brown's era of good feelings, defending the administration's push for trade promotion authority against another Rust Belt Democrat, ranking member Sander M. Levin of Michigan.
All kidding aside, Brown said he actually was amazed at the effort the White House was putting into its trade agenda. He said more congressional Democrats have been lobbied on trade by the Obama administration, including multiple Cabinet members, than on any other issue during Obama's presidency.
"That's just sad," Brown said.
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