Life and politics from the Sunshine State's best city

David Jolly says lack of trust in President Obama is causing him to oppose TPA

in Top Headlines by

President Obama’s hopes for the passage of a trade measure that would give his administration greater authority to negotiate more freely with other countries was blocked in the Senate on Tuesday, when only one Democratic senator voted to support his efforts.

Obama’s goal of getting a new Asia-Pacific trade bill known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)  passed has been getting significant pushback from Democrats, who are skeptical of trade deals like the TPP because they believe they hurt U.S. jobs and give foreign countries an unfair advantage because they don’t always follow the rules.

Before they even vote on the TPP, however, the president is trying to get trade promotion authority (TPA) from Congress. That’s the formal name for what is also known simply as “fast-track authority.” TPA gives the president the power to negotiate an international deal that Congress can either approve or reject, but not modify. If the bill passes Congress, it’s going to be because of GOP support.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner support the legislation, but, particularly in the House, there has been more noise of opposition being heard from conservatives, who simply aren’t in the mood to aid a president that they say has been doing a lot of executive overreach on issues like immigration, bypassing their authority.

Count David Jolly among those critics.

“I don’t feel comfortable giving the president additional authority,” Jolly said Wednesday morning. “This is a president who we have complained has overreached in so many other areas.”

He says that there is a strong level of distrust between the Congress and the White House that exists right now, and says that while he traditionally has supported such trade deals, he believes that the White House and Republican leadership is rushing this legislation. Citing creation of the Affordable Care Act as evidence, he says the attitude right now in Washington is simply, “Let’s try to rush this over the goal line before people realize what’s going on.”

Although he says he doesn’t want to be “destructive,” it’s obvious that Jolly’s disdain toward how Obama has treated the Congress since Jolly was elected a year ago to represent Pinellas County in the House of Representatives is affecting his support.

“I said to some folks the other day, ‘let’s postpone the TPA vote until the January following the next presidential election.’ I’ll vote for it regardless of who the next president is. If it’s Hillary Clinton, Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio I’d vote for TPA in January of 2017.”

When asked how House leadership has reacted to his opposition to the TPA, Jolly laughed and said he’s been pushed (or “whipped” in congressional parlance) for the past six weeks, but hasn’t budged. He asked Sarasota U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, who has been assigned to get him to a “yes,” how many more times he was going to try to persuade him to vote for the legislation.

Two weeks ago the Washington Examiner reported that House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., wouldn’t say he has the votes to pass a bill that would give President Obama fast-track authority. “We are still working through it,” the paper quotes Scalise as saying after meeting with Republican rank-and-file members. “But this is going to be a bipartisan effort. We want to see that equal push from the administration.”

Jolly also met with Gov. Rick Scott in Washington on Tuesday regarding the issues between the Scott Administration and the White House regarding the Low Income Pool (LIP) funding, which helps hospitals care for the poor and uninsured. The Obama administration would prefer that Florida expand Medicaid, saying it’s a more effective way to ensure that more than 800,000 of Florida’s poorest residents have access to care. It does not want funding streams such as LIP to pick up costs that Medicaid expansion might cover.

Jolly says that he doesn’t like that approach. “I don’t think the administration should’ve done that. But we cannot lose LIP. We have to reach a deal.”

Having said that, Jolly is also critical of the Florida House for leaving the legislative session three days early last month when negotiations between them and the Florida Senate were at an impasse.

“I’ve never subscribed to the ‘take the ball and go home’ (attitude). I just hope it all works out. This is a serious issue. This is beyond symbolism now. This is how do we cover low-income individuals in the state of Florida and I think both sides bear responsibility. I think the Obama administration has not played fairly in the past few months, but I also think that the governor has a responsibility to stay at the negotiating table until something’s worked out.”

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at [email protected]

Latest from Top Headlines

Go to Top