House Republicans on Tuesday huddled with a group of pro-trade Democrats about a proposal to pass a standalone measure as early as this week that would give President Obama trade promotion authority powers, also called TPA or "fast track," to expedite trade deals.
TPA is now stalled in the House because it is tethered to the trade adjustment assistance act, or TAA, which Democrats normally support but voted against on Friday in order to sink the "fast track" measure they staunchly oppose.
Under the GOP plan, TPA would pass on its own, without TAA, then get considered in the Senate, and then move to President Obama's desk.
The plan is Obama's "preferred path at the moment," a GOP aide told the Washington Examiner.
The legislation would be inserted into a public safety employee retirement bill that has already passed the House but which has been amended by the Senate. Such a move would eliminate one of the 60-vote hurdles typically required to pass a Senate bill. The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., would allow public safety retirees to access retirement savings at age 50 after 20 years of service without having to pay a 10 percent tax.
In order for the deal to go forward, Republicans in the House would first have to win over Democrats who last week voted in favor of TPA but might be unwilling to pass it as a standalone bill.
"Those are the negotiations that are going on right now," a GOP aide said.
The idea gained steam after Republicans and President Obama conferred several times on ways to pass TPA since House Democrats blocked it on Friday.
Winning Democrats over on the current plan has become increasingly unlikely, Democratic Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told reporters on Tuesday.