Updated 12:12 p.m. June 18 | President Barack Obama isn't going to support a strategy that gives him half a loaf on his trade agenda, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Wednesday.
With Capitol Hill leaders working on a plan that would split Trade Promotion Authority from Trade Adjustment Assistance , Earnest made clear Obama will demand both.
"The only legislative strategy that the president will support is a strategy that results in both TPA and TAA coming to his desk," he said. Obama Won't Sign TPA Without TAA Path
But Earnest did acknowledge that the two measures could move separately, and TPA could come first. That would require a clear "path" for TAA to follow.
Ultimately, he noted, any scenario will require the votes of Democrats, several of whom have told CQ Roll Call they want assurances that TAA will become law.
He declined to say several times that Obama would veto TPA if TAA was not also on his desk, saying he didn't think it would come to that.
Sen. Thomas R. Carper of Delaware said he and other Democrats who have supported Trade Promotion Authority could support a strategy dividing it from Trade Adjustment Assistance, provided both quickly reached Obama's desk.
"We want to have a near-simultaneous track," Carper told CQ Roll Call. "They've got to both be done, but they don't have to be done like at the same second. But, they should be part of a loosely-knit package, or they don't get done."
The deal making the rounds on the Hill would effectively give balking House Democrats a fait accompli — once TPA was headed for the president's desk one way or another, they would no longer be slow-tracking "fast track" by blocking one of their favorite programs.
Earnest, meanwhile, declined to say if Obama has spoken to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in the five days since she shocked the administration and many in her own party by helping kill the trade package.
Earnest Dodges Questions on Obama-Pelosi Conversations
He reiterated that Obama's relationship with the California Democrat was strong enough to survive the dispute on this issue.
But pressed on the lack of a phone call between the president and the minority leader, he noted, "she doesn't want the legislation to advance."
Obama, suffice it to say, doesn't think fast track should be slow-tracked.
Pelosi is scheduled to attend tonight's congressional picnic at the White House. Obama's remarks at the picnic will be pooled press.
Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.
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