Schumer Organizes Democratic Collapse on TPP
Chuck Schumer in the 1960s, competing for James Madison High School on the It’s Academic television quiz show (source)
by Gaius Publius
Here's the Washington Post's headline:
Schumer at Center of Democrats’ Trade Drama
But as the article makes clear, "Schumer is at the center of Dem trade drama" is easy code for "Schumer is lead perp for Dem trade collapse." Sen. Chuck Schumer, soon-to-be Leader, got his wish, a Fast Track bill that would pass the Senate, plus a separate currency bill that "pro–billionaire-controlled trade" senators can use for ground cover.
The telling quote:
Of course, the likely outcome is the separate measures will pass out of the Senate, but the currency-related measure faces a rough road in the House and at the White House.Nice job, Mr. Schumer. Notice both pieces. First, as a separate bill the currency restrictions will pass, but can be vetoed separately from Fast Track. A win for Fast Track. Second, passing the currency bill allows pro-TPP Democrats to brag about how they "tried," useful fog for the campaign trail. Again, nice job, Mr. Schumer.
Pro-trade Democrats, though, will be able to say they voted to get tough on trade even as they voted for a six-year fast-track trade bill.
Now the rest of the Wash Post piece, which contains a fascinating look at the back-and-forth, and the lead architect of that back-and-forth, which will lead to Fast Track passing in the Senate. That lead architect is Chuck Schumer:
Senate Democrats’ epic trade revolt against President Barack Obama’s fast-track bill — and the furious efforts to salvage it — had one senator at the center of it all: Charles E. Schumer.Don't forget to notice "progressive" Patty Murray's role in this. As a member of Democratic leadership, she seems to have had to choose between "following the neo-liberal leader" — in this case, Barack Obama on TPP — and standing with all other progressives in the "Democratic coalition," including every labor union. Murray is choosing to play ball with Senate leadership against progressives. Watch her carefully going forward. This looks a lot like the victory of careerism over principle.
The New York Democrat, who has become the heir apparent to Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, found himself in an awkward position, to say the least. A provision he authored to get tough on countries that manipulate their currencies was threatening to bring down the White House’s entire trade agenda; its absence on the Senate floor was why Democrats filibustered Obama’s fast-track trade package Tuesday.
By the end of the day Wednesday, the crisis — what White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest kept calling a “procedural snafu” — had been averted, with Schumer helping to seal the deal.
Although the New Yorker has opposed the trade bills — he voted against fast track in committee — as the caucus’ future leader, he has to balance the anti-trade sentiment among the vast majority of Democratic senators with his loyalty to the White House and the desires of a sizable number of pro-trade Democrats, such as Sen. Patty Murray of Washington.
In short, it’s a sign of the kind of leader Schumer will be.
Confirmation that Schumer is playing both sides — pro-billionaire, pro-"progressive" — comes later in the article:
Schumer all along — both in committee and at the microphones Tuesday — said his goal was not to use his currency proposal as a poison pill to kill fast track, which is why he offered it as an amendment to the separate customs bill last month.The main reason for the explosion of popular joy after the vote that upheld the filibuster was that poison pill. Schumer and the White House (via its late-night meeting with 10 named Democratic senators) re-energized the pro-TPP senators, restiffened their pro-TPP spines. In the end, those ten plus four others (see below) should be more than enough to defeat the next Democratic filibuster.
Who Are the Pro-TPP Democratic Senators?
Wyden has claimed he has 14 senators on his side (Politico Pro; subscription required):
Sen. Ron Wyden, ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, said earlier today that 14 Democrats were prepared to vote for cloture if there was a clear path for approval of the customs bill.Ten Democratic senators were named in the White House's press announcement of its post-filibuster meeting. (Politico wrote up the importance of that action here. Note that Politico also serves to turn up that heat on those Democrats with this article as well.)
If Wyden is right, who are the other four? The Hill has named two senators, Feinstein and McCaskill, who were siding with Wyden on "trade." Their names didn't appear on the White House invitation. I think we can add two more names (explained below) to complete the TPP Gang of Fourteen.
So here are your 14 Democratic pro-TPP senators, as I see it. First, from the White House press report, "[t]he following senators attended the meeting":
- Michael Bennet (D-CO)
- Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
- Ben Cardin (D-MD)
- Tom Carper (D-DE)
- Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)
- Tim Kaine (D-VA)
- Patty Murray (D-WA)
- Bill Nelson (D-FL)
- Mark Warner (D-VA)
- Ron Wyden (D-OR)
- Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
- Claire McCaskill (D-MO)
- Cory Booker (D-NJ) — who declined to vote on the filibuster
- Chuck Schumer (D-NY) — who helped collapse the resistance
JUST IN: The roll-call vote for the second filibuster has been released. The filibuster was defeated 65–33 with two Republicans not voting.
New names on the pro-TPP list: Chris Coons (D-DE), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH). Since Fast Track proponents had five votes to spare (threshold: 60 votes), I take both as voting as they wished. Booker and Schumer voted No, but their votes weren't needed. Since the floor vote threshold will be a simple majority, I don't expect either to have to show his hand publicly yet.