Nevada congressional members help vote down trade package

Nevada’s congressional delegation voted Friday to reject a key part of President Barack Obama’s trade agenda, though one congressman elected to skip the vote in order to return to the state.

Democratic Rep. Dina Titus and Republican Reps. Joe Heck and Cresent Hardy voted against part of the president’s trade agenda that was necessary to give Obama the authority to complete a highly debated trade agreement.

The Trade Adjustment Assistance program is an aid package targeting workers displaced by free trade, and it failed in the House on a 126-302 vote. The rest of the president’s trade package hinges on approval of the aid program, which congressional leaders said will be brought up for a vote again next week.

The House voted 219-211 to approve fast-track legislation for the trade agreement, with Hardy and Heck voting to approve and Titus dissenting. But that vote was largely symbolic because the companion Trade Adjustment Assistance bill failed.

Republican Rep. Mark Amodei said he skipped the vote after it became apparent that it wouldn’t pass.

“Having watched similar scenarios play out in the 114th Congress and being familiar with what the realities are for air travel returning to Nevada,” he said in a statement, “I had no appetite for breaking multiple commitments in Nevada this weekend in order to attend a mess on the floor.”

The Republican congressman is scheduled to speak at a state truck driving championship on Saturday morning in Sparks.

Heck, who represents parts of southern Nevada including most of Henderson, said expanding trade would help Nevada jobs. “Enacting trade promotion authority will bring much needed transparency and accountability to future trade negotiations, ensuring our trade deals create of a system of fair rules and enforcement so that American products and services are competing on a level playing field,” he said in a statement.

Titus joined a majority of House Democrats in voting against the trade bill, and she said she worried that the current agreement was moving too quickly. “Instead of fast-tracking another trade deal that hurts working families, let’s pump the brakes and stop repeating the mistakes of the past,” she said.


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