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October 10, 2015

Reid, DSCC Chair Meet with Obama

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid met Monday with President Barack Obama and brought the Democrats’ 2014 campaign team with him.

The Nevadan walked into the Capitol with Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Executive Director Guy Cecil and DSCC Chairman Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado after the trio met with Obama at the White House. Details on the their discussions were scant — but the party faces a number of tough re-election campaigns this fall, and a number of vulnerable Democrats have been distancing themselves from the White House.

Reid, for his part, said he wasn’t in hot water with Obama over his opposition to trade promotion authority.

Indeed, asked if he and Obama were on the same page with regard to trade promotion authority, Reid replied, “We are on the same page on everything.”

Asked if he was “in the dog house” with Obama after coming out against trade promotion authority last week, Reid said “no.”

He also said Obama knew his position and that a look at his voting record would show that it has been long-held.

But the president sees trade promotion authority, also known as fast track, as a potential area of cooperation between Republicans and Democrats this year. The issue was highlighted in his State of the Union address last week.

Administration officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry, a former Democratic senator, have recently sought to downplay Reid’s opposition.

“Well, I don’t — look, I respect Harry Reid. I’ve worked with him for a long time, obviously,” Kerry said at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday when asked about the matter. “And I think all of us have learned to interpret a comment on one day in the United States Senate as not necessarily what might be the situation in a matter of months or in some period of time.”

White House Spokesman Jay Carney said Monday that Obama would continue to advocate for the measure.

“The president believes we need to move forward on trade agreements that expand exports, that create jobs here for Americans that pay better than other jobs,” Carney said before the meeting with Reid. “Trade promotion authority is a means to getting those trade agreements done. And therefore, he believes it’s important to pursue it in order to get the best possible deal and to play the leadership role that should be playing around the world.”

“Now, he’s going to work with members of Congress of both parties, members of the Senate of both parties in pressing for his view that we need to move forward on these trade agreements and expanding trade for the American economy and American workers,” Carney said.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, who supports trade promotion said he too believes the measure will get a vote on the Senate floor despite Reid’s opposition, given the White House’s backing.

“Oh yeah, the president wants one,” Portman said of a vote.

TPA is an authority given to the president by Congress to negotiate trade deals with foreign governments, which Congress must either approve or reject, with no ability to amend or filibuster the deal. TPA for future deals expired in 2007.

Niels Lesniewski contributed to this article.

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