Congresswoman Terri Sewell

Representing the 7th District of Alabama

Politico: The dozen Dems who'll decide Obama's trade deal

May 28, 2015
In The News

Scan the ranks of House Democrats and you’d be hard-pressed to find a lawmaker more loyal to President Barack Obama than Jim Clyburn — during the 2008 presidential primary the South Carolinian even incurred the wrath of Bill Clinton over his perceived support for the then-junior senator from Illinois.

Yet as the biggest legislative battle of the president’s final years in office unfolds in Congress — whether to give him the authority to clinch the largest free trade agreement in history — Clyburn is refusing so far to get Obama’s back. The No. 3 House Democrat is remaining neutral on trade promotion authority, despite being summoned with other black Democrats to the Oval Office recently to hear directly from the president.

The Senate last week passed TPA on a 62-37 vote. But the House is another story: Only 17 Democrats are on record in support, and several dozen Republicans have come out against it, too. Proponents would lose if a vote were taken today. But there are enough undecided lawmakers to make the expected mid-June vote a cliffhanger.

Clyburn is among the roughly dozen undecided Democrats who may well decide whether Obama clinches a legacy-burnishing accomplishment or is stymied once again by Congress. The congressman jokingly notes the “significant pressure” he’s under — from all sides.

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