WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Saturday urged lawmakers to give his trade agenda a second chance and support a bill that would provide training to American workers who see their jobs shipped overseas.
The measure is part of legislation that also includes the “fast-track” authority that Obama needs to finish negotiating a free trade deal with Pacific Rim nations.
“If I did not think that smart new trade deals were the right thing to do for working families, I wouldn’t be fighting for it,” Obama said in his weekend address, an appeal aimed at his fellow Democrats.
Obama suffered an embarrassing setback on Friday on the trade deal, one of his top economic priorities for the 18 months he has left in office.
Republicans in the House of Representatives approved the “fast-track” part of the bill with help from a small group of Democrats.
But Democrats, worried that the new trade deal will send more U.S. jobs overseas, killed the Trade Adjustment Assistance worker aid bill, a measure that many Republicans philosophically oppose.
“For the sake of those workers, their families, and their communities, I urge those members of Congress who voted against Trade Adjustment Assistance to reconsider, and stand up for American workers,” Obama said in his Saturday address.
Obama made it clear he is not giving up on the trade package. “This is the right thing to do,” he said.
Republicans hope to hold another vote on the issue next week. The White House is not weighing on the prescription for how to “untangle the knot,” said one official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“There are several different paths here on the House side,” the White House official said.
Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Lisa Shumaker