Connect with us

Politics

Obama, GOP Try to Revive Trade Agenda, but Hurdles Await

Published

on

In this March 24, 2015 file photo, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif. during news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. McCarthy says Congress must find a way to pass President Barack Obama's trade agenda. But he acknowledged there's no obvious pathway for now. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke, File)

In this March 24, 2015 file photo, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif. during news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. McCarthy says Congress must find a way to pass President Barack Obama’s trade agenda. But he acknowledged there’s no obvious pathway for now. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke, File)

CHARLES BABINGTON, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama and his legislative allies scrambled Monday for ways to revive his severely wounded trade agenda, although Democrats and Republicans alike said all options face serious hurdles.

Obama talked with House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. And White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough spoke with Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the House Democratic leader whose rejection of Obama’s pleas capped Friday’s stunning setback delivered mainly by his own party.

But key lawmakers and aides said significant political and legislative challenges complicate the “many different options” cited Monday by House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. House Republican leaders sought to give themselves more time, seeking a new deadline of July 30 for the legislation. The House was slated to vote on an extension on Tuesday.

The situation deeply frustrates Obama’s supporters on trade, because in some ways, success seems almost within reach.

The House on Friday narrowly approved the key component of the president’s trade agenda: granting him “fast track” authority to negotiate agreements that Congress can reject or ratify, but not change.

And there’s reason to believe the House would approve the legislative package’s other main element — renewal of an aid program for workers displaced by international trade — if it were decided on a stand-alone vote. Democrats overwhelmingly support it, and it costs so little that that numerous Republican consider it a reasonable price to get fast track.

But three legislative realities are thwarting any easy solution:

— The Senate combined the two elements into one bill, which it sent to the House after a bruising, lengthy battle.

—It turned out that House Democrats opposed fast track so strenuously, they were willing to sacrifice the displaced workers’ aid to scuttle the whole package.

—The administration and others are loath to start over and give the Senate another crack at dragging out, and possibly killing, the entire trade package.

The original strategy assumed a left-right combination would ratify the Senate-passed legislation. Nearly all House Democrats would support the worker aid program, joined by enough Republicans for a majority, the thinking went. Then, a big majority of House Republicans, and just enough Democrats, would approve the fast track portion.

But Democrats, urged on by unions and Pelosi, foiled the plan Friday by killing the aid program, known as Trade Adjustment Assistance, or TAA. Even some colleagues called the tactic cynical, and Obama had specifically asked them not to do it.

All weekend, House Republicans gleefully distributed headlines about the Democrats’ rebuke of Obama.

The fact remains, however, that the failed fast track legislation was a top priority of Congress’ Republican leaders and crucial GOP allies, including the Chamber of Commerce and Business Roundtable.

Pro-trade lawmakers were weighing possible paths Monday. McCarthy said the best option was for Democrats to “come to their senses” and pass TAA, by reversing Friday’s outcome. Several Democrats called that highly unlikely, noting that 144 House Democrats opposed the measure Friday.

Rep. Gerry Connolly, a Virginia Democrat who supports fast track and spoke with White House officials over the weekend, said, “I think it’s going to be a very heavy lift to try to change the outcome on TAA.”

Connolly said he worries that Republicans will somehow enact fast track without the displaced workers’ aid. “Why Democrats want to actually be the handmaiden of that, I do not know,” he said.

Another possibility is to have the House revise the Senate-passed bill and send it back to the Senate for a new round of debate and votes. But strategists in both parties said trade opponents would welcome another chance to suffocate fast track.

A third option calls for the House — which last week voted separately on fast track and TAA — to revisit the combined package with a single up-or-down vote.

No new Democrats are likely to vote for fast track. But the House voted 219-211 for the fast track component Friday, and some advocates hope the same margin might prevail on a revised approach.

GOP aides, however, say it’s highly likely that more than four Republicans would switch to “nay” to avoid endorsing TAA, which they consider a sop to unions. That would be enough to sink the legislation.

The congressional impasse jeopardizes hopes to complete the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership that the United States and 11 other nations have been negotiating for years.

Pro-trade advocates aren’t giving up. “The differences are so small and the prize is so large that I think they’ll be some creative efforts at solving this,” said Jim Kessler, a pro-trade supporter and vice president of the Democratic-leaning group Third Way.

Hillary Rodham Clinton, the most prominent Democrat running for president, tip-toed around the trade issue again Monday even as her Democratic rivals loudly condemn fast track. The fast track bill, Clinton told reporters, “is a process issue. The issue for me is what’s in the deal” for the Pacific Rim nations, assuming it reaches final form.

“I will wait and see what the deal is and then I will tell you if I would vote for it,” she said.

___

Associated Press writers Erica Werner, Lisa Lerer and Jim Kuhnhenn contributed to this report.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activism

After Wood Street Clearance, Homeless People Stay

Advocates claim about a dozen of them showed up on November 8 to support residents. One of them, Annmarie Bustamente, said their presence “definitely helped the residents block the eviction” and that the residents were “tired of displacement and said no” to a member of Oakland’s Public Works Department encouraging them to move. 

Published

on

Homeless Oakland Jessie Parker stands on Wood Street in West Oakland on November 10. The city of Oakland had planned to move Parker and dozens of others from this location between November 8 and 10, but residents refused to move and remained on site after the attempted closure operation. Photo by Zack Haber.
Homeless Oakland Jessie Parker stands on Wood Street in West Oakland on November 10. The city of Oakland had planned to move Parker and dozens of others from this location between November 8 and 10, but residents refused to move and remained on site after the attempted closure operation. Photo by Zack Haber.

By Zack Haber

On the morning of November 8, members of both Oakland’s Encampment Management Team, Public Works, and Police Department came to an area encompassing about 1/5 of a mile from Wood Street and Grand Avenue to Wood Street and 26th Street with the stated goal of clearing the location of homeless people. But after the attempted clearance, homeless people remained in the area.

“The objective was to move as many people as possible,” wrote Oakland Communications Director Karen Boyd in an e-mail. “But that could not be accomplished without the full cooperation of the community.”

“You can’t push us back any further than this,” said homeless resident Jessie Parker, a 63-year-old lifelong Oaklander who came to live on Wood Street after being shot in the leg. The injury prevented him from being able to do the physical movement required for the construction and electrical work he had done in the past. On November 4, the city put up pink notices informing him that starting in four days they would force him to vacate the area he’s lived in for about nine years, but he, like dozens of others living in vehicles, tents or makeshift homes along Wood Street, didn’t leave.

Parker’s statement references the fact that Wood Street is one of the westernmost streets in West Oakland. A little further west from where Parker lives is land owned by Caltrans under the 880 overpass where still more homeless people live, as well as a 1.5 acre plot of land belonging to a company called Gamechanger LLC. To the east are businesses and residential areas.

After about two years in delays, Gamechanger agreed to lease its land to the city for $1 a year and the city opened a Safe RV Parking site on July 7 on the company’s land through the non-profit Building Opportunities for Self Sufficiency.

In the Safe RV Parking site, residents who own RVs and trailers can legally live in them and receive services. It’s unclear how long this service will last, as the lease between GameChanger and the city can expire by November of next year. That same lease laid out plans to allow 75 RVs or trailers space to park, but while walking through the site on November 10, this writer counted 29 RVs while half of the site sat vacant. The site is not available for many residents, like Parker, who don’t have an RV or a trailer.

“I never received an offer to move in,” said Parker, who lives in a truck. “It’s for RVs only.”

The site opening has put other residents at risk of displacement who can’t or don’t want to access it. Since Oakland’s City Council unanimously passed its Encampment Management Policy in October of last year, despite protests and critical public comments during five hours of a meeting, city policy now states those living within 25 feet of such sites can face clearance.

Although their policy now allows it, the city had not attempted to move nor even encouraged people who are living near the Safe RV Parking site to leave the area until the November 8 operation. But recent communications from Justin Tombolesi, who is the constituent liaison for District 3 Councilmember Carroll Fife, have led advocates and homeless people to believe the company is now pressuring the city to force people to leave the area. In a text message to a homeless resident who lives near Wood Street, Tombolesi wrote “Gamechanger is suing the city because people are too close to the RV site.”

Gamechanger denies suing or pressuring the city. When asked if the company was suing or threatening to sue the city, the company’s lawyer, Pat Smith of Smith LLP, responded in an email, writing “Not at all — no thought of suing the city. The city is solely in charge of the site and ownership has no involvement or concern over how the city is handling things.”

In an e-mail, Boyd wrote that “No filings or actions to terminate the lease have been served upon the city,” but that the city has “spoken with legal counsel representing GameChanger’s lot regarding the city’s plans to create compliance.”

In another text message to the same resident, Tombolesi also claimed the city would allow residents living on Wood Street to move to a vacant portion of land off the street and just north of the Safe RV Parking site during the November 8 closure operation. No residents have moved into that location and residents, as well advocates who were on site that day, claim no one was invited to do so. Boyd said the city offered nine spaces in the city’s Community Cabins, and five spaces in a rapid rehousing program called The Holland. One resident accepted a space in the Community Cabins, which is a program that offers small, unheated shelter in shed-like spaces made by the Tuff Shed company.

Advocates claim about a dozen of them showed up on November 8 to support residents. One of them, Annmarie Bustamente, said their presence “definitely helped the residents block the eviction” and that the residents were “tired of displacement and said no” to a member of Oakland’s Public Works Department encouraging them to move.

Although the closure operation was originally slated to occur over three days between Monday November 8 and Wednesday November 10, no one from the city came back after the first day.

“The ability to proceed Monday impacted the entire operation,” wrote Boyd in an e-mail, “and activities for the following days were cancelled.”

Although homeless residents did not leave Wood Street, Oakland’s Police Department’s Public Information Officer Kim Armstead said the department did tow six vehicles for long expired registration on November 6 and 7 in the area in preparation for the closure.

According to Armstead, the department avoided towing vehicles that served as people’s homes, as the department, following the cities’ direction, has “agreed not to tow vehicles where there is clear evidence they are being used as shelter.” Armstead also said on November 8, OPD supported the city operation with two officers, one sergeant, and six police service techs who provided traffic control and security for city workers.

One homeless resident named Evangeline said the towing of her and her husband’s vehicle has made it difficult to go grocery shopping and to visit her mother, who just had a heart attack. The couple can’t afford to pay the fees to get the car back, so it will remain in the tow yard.

“We’re really stuck,” she said.

Although residents like Parker avoided being moved from Wood Street, it’s unclear when or if the city will come back to move them. According to Parker, a member of the non-profit Building Opportunities for Self Sufficiency has been working to secure some form of permanent housing for him, and he’s hopeful that the person will be successful.

“I’m a little older now so my peak interest is getting back into housing,” said Parker. “If I get into housing, I’m sure I won’t go back to this. I can’t take these harsh elements no more.”

Continue Reading

Activism

African American Sports & Entertainment Group (AASEG) helps support 25th annual turkey drive in East Oakland

Assembymember Mia Bonta said,”I am excited and fully in support of the City Council’s decision to prioritize an African American-led, Oakland rooted, development group to negotiate how we can reimagine the Coliseum site. This represents a promise of development without displacement, and amenities and entertainment that East Oakland once had and deserves again. This is also the kind of community-led, wealth building opportunity l will fight for at the state level, and I will continue to support initiatives like these here in the 18th Assembly District.”

Published

on

The African American Sports & Entertainment Group came out to support the 25th annual Community Giving Foundation Turkey drive at Verdese Carter Park in East Oakland.

Hosted by founder and organizer Marlon McWilson, the turkey drive that started in 1997 has now donated over 35,000 Turkey’s through McWilson’s foundation. In attendance were Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong, Oakland PAL, California Assembly Member Mia Bonta (AD-18) along with husband and Attorney General for the State of California Rob Bonta. Assembly Member Bonta also congratulated the AASEG on their recent unanimous 8-0 approval to enter negotiations with the City of Oakland on an Exclusive Negotiating Agreement (ENA) to purchase the city’s half interest of the coliseum land, and looks forward to working with the team.

Assembymember Mia Bonta said,”I am excited and fully in support of the City Council’s decision to prioritize an African American-led, Oakland rooted, development group to negotiate how we can reimagine the Coliseum site. This represents a promise of development without displacement, and amenities and entertainment that East Oakland once had and deserves again. This is also the kind of community-led, wealth building opportunity l will fight for at the state level, and I will continue to support initiatives like these here in the 18th Assembly District.”

Continue Reading

Bay Area

Get Booster Shot, Celebrate Thanksgiving Holiday Safely, State Officials Say

Officials are encouraging people who took both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least six months ago to get their boosters now. People who took the one-shot Johnson & Johnson primary dose at least two months ago, should also schedule their booster shot.

Published

on

According to Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel, the booster shots are being administered under an “emergency use authorization.”
According to Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel, the booster shots are being administered under an “emergency use authorization.”

By Aldon Thomas Stiles, California Black Media

Golden State public health officials are recommending that Californians take COVID-19 booster shots to prevent a resurgence of the disease and to celebrate the holidays safely with their loved ones.

“It’s not too late to get it,” said Dr. Mark Ghaly, secretary of the California Health and Human Services Department, referring to the COVID-19 booster shot. He was speaking at a vaccine clinic in Los Angeles County last week.

“Get that added protection for the Thanksgiving gatherings you may attend,” he said.

Last week, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the Moderna and Pfizer vaccine boosters for all adults in the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) followed with an endorsement of the booster vaccine, recommending it for people over age 50, and anyone 18 and older who is at higher risk.

The CDC loosened the language for all other adults, saying anyone over age 18 “may” take the shot.

California officials say the booster shots are plenty and available throughout the state.

“If you think you will benefit from getting a booster shot, I encourage you,” said Ghaly. “Supplies are available. There are many sites across the state – thousands in fact.”

On Saturday, the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup completed a separate review of the federal government’s approval process for the booster shots and also recommended that “individuals 18 or older who have completed their primary vaccination series,” take the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna boosters.

California, Oregon, Nevada and Washington state came together last year and created the Western States Scientific Safety Review Workgroup. The group, made up of scientists, medical professionals and public health experts, is charged with reviewing COVID-19 vaccine safety.

Over the last two weeks, COVID-19 infections across the United States have increased at a rate of nearly 33%, according to the CDC.

Officials are encouraging people who took both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least six months ago to get their boosters now. People who took the one-shot Johnson & Johnson primary dose at least two months ago, should also schedule their booster shot.

“COVID-19 boosters are available to all Californians 18 [and over]! Walk-in clinics are open statewide with no appointment necessary – like this mobile clinic in Avenal. Find a clinic or pharmacy near you and get yours today,” Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office chimed in on Twitter.

Newsom has pushed hard for the vaccine booster since he received his last month.

“Great news for the rest of the country. The holidays are here — make sure to keep your immunity up and protect yourself and your loved ones. Get your booster,” Newsom tweeted on November 18.

According to Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel, the booster shots are being administered under an “emergency use authorization.”

California Black Media’s coverage of COVID-19 is supported by the California Health Care Foundation.

Continue Reading

CHECK OUT THE LATEST ISSUE OF THE OAKLAND POST

ADVERTISEMENT

WORK FROM HOME

Home-based business with potential monthly income of $10K+ per month. A proven training system and website provided to maximize business effectiveness. Perfect job to earn side and primary income. Contact Lynne for more details: Lynne4npusa@gmail.com 800-334-0540

Facebook

Trending