In this April 2, 2015 file photo, President Barack Obama speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. The federal estate tax inspires a lot of heated political rhetoric for a tax that very few people actually pay. The House is scheduled to vote this week on a bill to repeal the estate tax, part of a package of bills highlighting Wednesday’s deadline to file income tax returns. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
In this April 2, 2015 file photo, President Barack Obama speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

(Politico) – When little else is working, try the Congressional Black Caucus.

That’s a familiar pattern for the Obama administration: Backed into a corner on Capitol Hill, President Barack Obama and his team lean on the four dozen African-American Democrats who are the core of his base. They did it in 2013 when the president was trying to get authority to bomb Syria. Now they’re doing it in the search for a few more votes as they try to cobble together a coalition to save the president’s trade agenda.

Obama, White House chief of staff Denis McDonough and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx have been including CBC members in their outreach on trade for months, but they’ve stepped it up in recent weeks with the vote nearing on whether to give the president “fast-track” authority that he’d then immediately use to complete negotiations on a trade pact known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

It’s a frustratingly familiar spot for CBC members. They’ve grumbled since almost the day he was inaugurated about the distance Obama’s kept from them, and though some cluck about being the president’s perennial fallback plan, they’re still inclined to back him up in a pinch. They hear the case he’s making — that trade will directly help their districts through funding included for job training, education investment and new economic opportunities. But they’re also still Democrats who’ve got many of the same concerns that their non-African-American colleagues do.


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