The effort to get "fast-track" trade authority for President Barack Obama has lost the support of one of the Republicans who could benefit from the powers if he became president in 2017.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said Tuesday the process by which the Trade Promotion Authority measure advanced through the House meant he could not support it without new assurances about winding down the authorization for the Export-Import Bank, claiming Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, must have made some kind of backroom deal with Democrats about the bank.
"Enough is enough. I cannot vote for TPA unless McConnell and Boehner both commit publicly to allow the Ex-Im Bank to expire — and stay expired. And, Congress must also pass the Cruz-Sessions amendments to TPA to ensure that no trade agreement can try to back-door changes to our immigration laws," Cruz said in an opinion piece for Breitbart News . "Otherwise, I will have no choice but to vote no."
Boehner has been previously reported to have made no assurances of that sort about the Export-Import Bank.
There is also no expectation that the trade authorities measure worked out primarily between congressional Republicans and the White House will change, particularly with an amendment from Sen. Jeff Sessions. The Alabama Republican has been perhaps the most vocal critic of the effort on his side of the aisle.
Cruz also pointed to the move to strip Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., of a subcommittee chairmanship, in what appears to have been retaliation for events including Meadows' opposition to a rule for House floor consideration of the trade measure.
"[T]he Speaker punished conservatives, wrongly stripping Rep. Mark Meadows ... of his subcommittee chairmanship, and reportedly threatening to strip other conservatives of their chairmanships as well," Cruz said. "Why does Republican Leadership always give in to the Democrats? Why does Leadership always disregard the promises made to the conservative grassroots?"
There's not a ton of margin for error ahead of Tuesday morning's vote to limit debate on the trade bill in the Senate, though some pro-trade Democrats said Monday that they were on board with the process outlined by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to advance both the Trade Promotion Authority bill and the Trade Adjustment Assistance measure on consecutive legislative vehicles. If all goes according to plan, both should pass the Senate before the July Fourth Recess.
As for the change in position by Cruz, who previously voted to advance the trade legislation? One senior GOP aide had some choice words for the presidential candidate.
"Ronald Reagan supported free trade. Reagan also supported trade negotiating authority because it was good for the country. Cruz's juvenile flip flop demonstrates how small he really is," the aide said.
Emma Dumain contributed to this report.
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