After a fractured start to the 114th Congress (disagreements over human trafficking, DHS funding and Loretta Lynch to name but a few high profile issues) a defeat of a presidentially endorsed trade bill in the Senate last night poses new problems for Obama – his own party.
So far, the 114th Congress has been shown to be at odds with Obama roughly along party lines, with Democrats largely behind him and Republicans against him. Last night however, only one Democrat in the Senate voted with Obama. This is a great example of the power Congress does have to check the president in it’s legislative capacity. It could also be used to show that when the president is less popular, Congress tends to act in a more powerful way (and this could therefore feature in a ‘lame duck’ essay).
The White House have brushed this off as a ‘procedural’ defeat and the bill will be brought back to the Senate. However this defeat shows the difficulty a president can have in controlling his own party, particularly when his powers of persuasion are weakened by poor popularity.